Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) traveled to Utah last week during the winter storms that claimed dozens of lives and knocked out power to millions of residents, local media outlets reported on Monday.
Paxton’s spokesperson, Ian Prior, said the attorney general flew to Utah with his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, as part of a “previously planned trip.”
“While there, AG Paxton had a number of meetings with the Utah Attorney General over the course of several days,” Prior said.
Prior also noted that the trip focused in part on an antitrust lawsuit against Google.
“I cannot further share additional details or the specific reasons on the need for the meeting concerning Google as it involves an ongoing investigation,” he said.
The Dallas Morning News was the first to report details of Paxton’s trip. It’s unclear why the Paxtons didn’t postpone the meetings or conduct them virtually ― or if they had returned to Texas.
Prior told CNN that Paxton did not leave Texas “until after power had returned to most of the state, including his own home.”
Paxton has pledged to investigate the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates most of the state’s electrical grid. Unlike the rest of the continental United States, Texas has its own power network which is largely unregulated, and a series of predictable faults led to the dramatic rolling blackouts that impacted a large portion of the state.
Paxton is the latest Texas official to be questioned over his response to the deadly winter storm. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) drew fierce criticism after he was spotted at the airport en route to Cancun last week while millions of Texans struggled without power or heat amid sub-freezing temperatures.
Cruz juggled between excuses, at times blaming his daughters and obfuscating his travel dates, before apologizing and saying the trip was a “mistake.”
“In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it,” Cruz said. “I started having second thoughts almost the moment I sat down on the plane because on the one hand, all of us who are parents have a responsibility to take care of our kids, take care of our family. That’s something Texans have been doing across the state.”
The Houston Chronicle reported that another lawmaker, state Rep. Gary Gates (R), also left Texas and flew to Florida on a private jet following the storm.