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Days after offering a $1 million reward
to anyone able to show evidence of widespread voter fraud, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced Monday that he’ll instead offer that money to any FBI agent who can steer a reported federal investigation away from Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The Associated Press recently reported the FBI was vetting claims by as many as eight former aides that Paxton used his office to benefit a political donor. Patrick now says "helping a fellow GOP culture warrior stay out of the pokey" amounts to “a better use of my campaign contributors’ funds.”
According to a source in Patrick’s office who spoke on condition of anonymity, the lieutenant governor always knew the voter fraud allegations were “utter bullshit.” Patrick was trying to fulfill a promise to First Lady Melania Trump, the person added.
“They had a call shortly after the election, and she asked if he would offer a bounty,” according to the source. “Although maybe she said the president was ‘awfully pouty.’ The lieutenant governor has always had a hard time with non-Texan accents.”
Paxton has remained a source of embarrassment for Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott, Austin insiders say.
Not because the attorney general has been under indictment for the past five years on securities fraud charges. Or that he reportedly had an extramarital affair and got his mistress a job with a major donor. Or that he’s alleged to have retaliated against the employees who requested an investigation into his conduct.
Instead, the governor and lieutenant governor have complained in private that Paxton’s simply “not smarmy enough.” In typical quid pro quo style, the AG reportedly promised to go back to the family feed store in Minot, North Dakota, if he's able to duck the feds.
Political observers point out that Patrick’s $1 million offer could be problematic since bribing the FBI is a federal offense.
“Paying off troopers, sheriffs and police chiefs is standard operating procedure in this state,” Patrick said waving his dog-eared copy of the Texas Lieutenant Governor’s Handbook.
“Besides, [U.S. Attorney General] Bill Barr said it shouldn’t be a problem.”
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