George P. Bush said he would not litigate against rogue government agencies violating state laws on teaching critical race theory or imposing COVID-19 mandates.
During a campaign stop for Texas attorney general, Bush said he wants to “stay out of the courthouse” and criticized incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton for bringing lawsuits against school districts who refused to comply with the governor’s executive order on COVID-19 mandates.
In July 2021, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott outlawed any mask or vaccine requirement by a government agency.
Paxton sent a warning letter to the state’s school districts after the order was issued explaining the law and telling them to comply. When 15 districts refused, Paxton filed lawsuits. Most have been settled, but a few are pending before the state Supreme Court, Paxton’s office said.
Bush, who is the Texas land commissioner, said in a Lubbock speaking eventthat Paxton should use a softer approach. He is in a May 24 GOP party runoff election against Paxton.
“My opponent is busy suing dozens and dozens of school districts on a variety of other issues, whether it’s mask mandates and vaccination requirements. I’m a different type of lawyer. I want to avoid litigation at all costs,” Bush said.
“One of the authorities of the agency is to draft advisory opinions so the school board members and teachers can feel comfortable knowing what the law means in their own classroom,” Bush added.
The comments were recorded by a local LXAM news reporter and posted on Twitter. The exchange started with a teacher in the audience complaining about parents who wrongfully accuse him of teaching critical race theory, which was outlawed in schools by the state legislature last year.
Bush admitted that parts of Texas are still teaching the theory but appeared to dismiss any heavy-handed intervention, saying there needs to be a “nuanced” approach to violators instead of using the courts “to score political points.”
“The role of the Texas attorney general is to make sure under the Texas Open Meeting Act, any parent can testify before its school board in the halls of power and disagree with curriculum,” Bush said. “Do I feel this has been overly politicized as a former teacher myself? Absolutely.”
So far, Paxton hasn’t filed any school lawsuits pertaining to the theory, but he did send a letter to a district in Austin warning officials that curricula celebrating Pride Week violated the law.
“Outside of the fact that George P. Bush is seriously unqualified to serve as Texas’s attorney general, he’s publicly admitting that he won’t take action against radical school districts who want to indoctrinate our children with dangerous, woke propaganda and wholly inappropriate, mature materials,” Paxton told the Washington Examiner.
“Parents in Texas want an attorney general who will defend parents’ rights to have a say in their children’s education and who will fight to stop radical nonsense from poisoning the minds of our children and grandchildren,” Paxton said.
Paxton has teamed with 20 other states in a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education over federal funding of critical race theory. He also filed a joint lawsuit with the state of Indiana against the Biden administration that seeks records pertaining to the Department of Justice labeling parents as “domestic terrorists” when they complained at school board meetings.
The race for attorney general has been a bruising one so far, with a February debate described as “an all-out brawl” by the Texas Tribune. Bush got into a heated debate with a former state Supreme Court justice while GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert attacked Paxton, who wasn’t there.
Bush’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Reporting by The Washington Examiner.