Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who pushed baseless conspiracy theories about the election, spent $2.2 million to close just three voter fraud cases this year, The Houston Chronicle reports.
Paxton election integrity unit added two lawyers, bringing its team total to six, and worked for more than 20,000 hours between October 2020 and September 2021, according to the report.
Lawmakers increased its budget from $1.9 million to $2.2 million.
But court records show the unit closed just three cases this year amid Trumpworld’s election conspiracy theories, down from 17 the previous year.
The unit opened just seven new cases.
“This is an exorbitant amount of money that has resulted in no benefit for the average Texan,” Austin Evers, executive director of government watchdog American Oversight, told the Chronicle. “Taxpayers are funding a political stunt meant to fuel the false claim of a stolen election and justify voting restrictions.”
Where’s the fraud?
The unit’s meager caseload comes amid a constant barrage of claims from Republican lawmakers stoking concerns about Trump’s election loss.
Republican lawmakers called for an audit of the state, even though Trump won in Texas, and passed a bill with sweeping voting restrictions that appear aimed at slashing ballot access in urban areas.
Paxton’s office, which filed a lawsuit seeking to block the certification of the election results in several states Trump lost, has not found any evidence of widespread fraud.
Multiple investigations, academic studies, and journalistic reviews have found no evidence of widespread fraud.
Paxton says not enough money:
Despite having the budget increased from the previous year to more than $2 million, Paxton on a podcast said that the low output was the result of low resources.
“I don’t think anybody knows the degree to which it happens because even our office who probably prosecutes more election fraud than anyone else in the country,” he said. “We don’t have enough resources to cover all election fraud. So it’s really hard to know how large an issue this is because very few states put any resources in to actually detect or prosecute voter fraud.”
It's unclear why the unit closed more than five times fewer cases than the year before with more funding.
“He’s finding very little of it despite spending a lot of money and using a lot of resources looking for it,” University of California at Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen said. “The reason is not that such fraud is too hard to find. Those that commit voter fraud tend not to be brain surgeons. The reason he’s not finding a lot of it is because voter fraud is rare.”