Legal watchdog asks Texas Bar to suspend or disbar Ted Cruz for trying to overturn 2020 election

The 65 Project sent a complaint on Wednesday to the Texas bar’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Thursday 19 May 2022 22:07
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<p>Ted Cruz speaks during a press conference as the Senate holds a confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 7, 2022</p>

Ted Cruz speaks during a press conference as the Senate holds a confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 7, 2022

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A legal watchdog group that seeks to sanction the lawyers who pushed former president Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud through US courts has asked the Texas state bar to suspend or revoke Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s licence to practice law for his involvement in “frivolous” election lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Texas.

The group, known as The 65 Project, sent a complaint on Wednesday to the Texas bar’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel requesting an investigation into Mr Cruz’s work representing Mr Trump and Pennsylvania Republicans in the weeks following Mr Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

The complaint alleges Mr Cruz’s actions involved him assisting with criminal conduct and defending and amplifying “claims not backed by law” and “claims not backed by evidence (but instead, speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion)” which the group says “violated numerous Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct”.

Mr Cruz was one of eight GOP senators who voted against certifying Mr Biden’s electoral college victory on 6 January 2021, the day a mob of Mr Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in hopes of preventing his defeat from being memorialised by Congress.

The Texas senator had floated a proposal for a “commission” to examine the myriad claims of fraud — all false — put forth by Mr Trump and his allies in hopes of keeping him in the White House for a second term against the wishes of American voters.

But the group, which counts a former chairman of the Texas State Bar Grievance Committee and a former chairman of the Texas Center of Legal Ethics and Professionalism board of trustees among its members, said Mr Cruz’s “leading role” in trying to overturn the 2020 election was “manifestly different” from other senators because he “chose to take on the role of lawyer” by representing Pennsylvania Republicans in Kelly v Pennsylvania and Texas Republicans in Texas v Pennsylvania, two cases which sought to invalidate electoral votes from swing states won by Mr Biden.

Mr Cruz publicly announced his involvement in the former case on 7 December 2020, after the Pennsylvania Republicans said they would appeal a decision rejecting their claims to the US Supreme Court. The next day, Mr Trump said he had asked Mr Cruz to represent him as an intervener in the lawsuit brought by the State of Texas, and Mr Cruz agreed.

“In doing so, Mr Cruz moved beyond his position as a United States senator and sought to use more than his Twitter account and media appearances to support Mr Trump’s anti-democratic mission. Mr Cruz added the value of his law license to the effort,” the group said.

While Mr Trump and his allies had hoped the conservative-leaning court — including three of his own appointees — would intervene to keep Mr Biden from taking office, the court instead rejected both cases within a three-day period.

The group alleged that Mr Cruz’s legal work in both cases — and public statements made while engaged as an attorney in Mr Trump’s efforts to overturn the election — violate rules of professional conduct for Texas-licensed attorneys which states that a lawyer shall not “bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless the lawyer reasonably believes that there is a basis for doing so that is not frivolous” or “shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person”.

“The claims and requests made by Pennsylvania Republicans in Kelly v. Pennsylvania and by Mr. Trump in Texas v. Pennsylvania were frivolous, which is why the United States Supreme Court denied the motions in short orders,” they said.

Mr Cruz is not the first of Mr Trump’s former attorneys to face disciplinary action as a result of representing the disgraced ex-president in his quest to remain in office despite losing his re-election bid.

Mr Trump’s former personal attorney, ex-New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, had his own licence to practise law suspended by the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division after concluding that he had “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at re-election in 2020” and finding that his conduct had “immediately threaten[ed] the public interest and warrant[ed] … suspension from the practice of law”.

“Just as Mr. Giuliani has been disciplined for his conduct, so should Mr Cruz,” the group said.

They also noted that a California federal judge had recently found that Mr Trump’s efforts “more likely than not” violated federal laws by constituting a criminal conspiracy to obstruct Congress’ efforts to certify the 2020 election.

That finding, they said, could mean Mr Cruz violated a third Texas rule prohibiting an attorney from “assist[ing] or counsel[ing] a client to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent” and said the question of whether the Texas senator “aided criminal or fraudulent efforts” had “already been answered affirmatively” by the court.

“Mr Cruz chose to offer his professional license to Mr Trump’s arsenal during the latter’s assault on our democracy. He cannot be shielded from the consequences of that decision simply because, unlike Mr Trump’s other attorneys, he happens to hold high public office,” they said.

It’s unclear whether the complaint against Mr Cruz will put his ability to practice law into any actual jeopardy, but a spokesperson for the Texas senator didn’t seem worried when contacted for comment by The Independent.

“The 65 Project is a far-left dark money smear machine run by a who’s who of shameless Democrat hacks,” said the spokesperson. “They’re not a credible organization and their complaint won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on”.

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