The following is a compilation of the unedited responses from Justin Nelson, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, to the 2018 Amarillo Pioneer Voter Guide Questionnaire. Nelson is running against Republican incumbent Ken Paxton and Libertarian Michael Ray Harris in the November election.
Justin A. Nelson
Please list any of your political, civic or non-profit experience.
I founded the democracy non-profit One Nation One Vote. I am an adjunct professor at The University of Texas Law School. I am a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and Texas Bar Foundation, and previously served in leadership positions with the American Bar Association. I have served on the International Board of the non-profit Amigos de las Americas. I’m also proud of my wife for her work in the organization Partners in Parenting, where she is Board Chair.
What is your educational background?
I attended Houston public schools, then graduated from Yale University and then Columbia Law School, where I graduated valedictorian.
Why did you decide to run for Attorney General?
I am running for office to restore integrity to the Office of Texas Attorney General. I’ve never run for office before, but we need a Texas Attorney General who will fight for values like justice, fairness, and integrity. These values are not Republican or Democratic values. They are Texas values and they are American values. It is an embarrassment and a disgrace that our current Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been indicted for fraud, faces decades in prison, has been investigated for bribery, and his net worth increased by 100 times--from $30,000 to $3,000,000.00--while he was serving in public office. We need a Texas Attorney General who will fight for all of our interests and not just the special interests. I am also running to try to take the politics out of the law. You should not know whether the Texas Attorney General is a Democrat or Republican. Texans want an Attorney General who will enforce the law, not violate it. Texans want an Attorney General who will apply the law in a non-partisan way and not use the office to further their own personal or partisan interests. We need a Texas Attorney General who will apply the law fairly, independently and according to the Constitution. I have clerked for two Reagan-appointed federal judges, including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. I teach at University of Texas Law School, and I am a lawyer working on high-stakes matters at the Susman Godfrey law firm. Texas deserves an Attorney General who will fight for ALL TEXANS, regardless of party.
What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?
The Texas Attorney General--the chief lawyer for Texas--should be a person who has had a successful legal career. We should be proud of our Texas Attorney General, not embarrassed by him. I am a Texas Super Lawyer, a former law clerk to two Reagan-appointed judges, including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. I teach at University of Texas Law School. From Justice O’Connor, I learned that defending the rule of law and the Constitution is not a partisan exercise. I’ve worked on numerous constitutional issues, including trying to fight gerrymandering. Individuals and companies hire me for serious and high-stakes litigation as part of my practice at Susman Godfrey. My opponent Mr. Paxton has appeared in court not as a lawyer, but as a defendant to say “not guilty.” He has been charged for defrauding his friends, his clients, even his fellow Republican lawmakers. He’s admitted that he failed to register as a securities adviser when he was supposed to be acting as a lawyer. He has used the office for his own political and personal purposes, not to further the agenda of all Texans. Texans want a real lawyer as Texas Attorney General, not one who has has been charged by a grand jury and faces decades behind bars.
What will be your top priority, if elected?
As Attorney General, my top three priorities will be: Fighting against corruption, government waste, and special interests by serving as a check on power, not a rubber stamp. Fighting for the people of Texas by cracking down on consumer fraud, promoting equal pay for equal work, and protecting working families. Fighting for justice for all and the rule of law by applying the law fairly, bringing dignity to the office.
Are you supported by any political action committees? If so, which ones?
I do not take corporate PAC money.
How are you better qualified than your opponents to serve in this position?
Texans deserve better than my opponent Ken Paxton. Mr. Paxton is indicted on three criminal counts and faces decades in prison. He is the first statewide official in Texas history to run for re-election while indicted and the only statewide elected executive official in the entire country who is indicted. Texas deserves an Attorney General who will make us proud. I am a lawyer who has been lucky and blessed enough to have a successful law career, who clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who teaches at the University of Texas Law School, who believes in the rule of law, and who will work hard each day to protect the interests of all Texans. My opponent is a career politician who has chosen to focus on extreme ideological issues instead of fighting for all the people of Texas and who has been indicted for criminal fraud for defrauding his friends and clients. Who would you rather hire? The choice is Integrity versus Indictment.
Why should voters choose you in 2018?
Texas needs an Attorney General who applies the law fairly, brings dignity to the office, believes in justice for all, fights for the interests of all Texans, and serves as an independent check on the political class. An Attorney General focused on these issues will transform Texas by making it an office that Texans can trust again to protect all of our interests. I will apply the law fairly, accurately, and according to the Constitution. I learned the rule of law from two federal judges appointed by Ronald Reagan, including Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. My agenda is to the Constitution and the rule of law. You may agree or disagree with any decision I make, but I hope that the people of Texas will see me trying to apply the law in a manner true to the law. Justice knows no political party. My goal is to be a Texas Attorney General for all Texans, regardless of party.