- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton doesn’t want to release his office’s communications with lawyers for an El Paso preacher who tried to stop health benefits for gay partners of city employees.

The El Paso Times (http://bit.ly/1Td1LVW ) reports that Paxton is essentially asking himself for an opinion, saying his office doesn’t have to release its communications with lawyers who worked with his top deputy on the case before the deputy joined Paxton’s staff.

Paxton’s office said in an appeal Monday to his office’s open records division that the requested information was exempted from public disclosure.

The attorney general’s office says the “appropriate firewalls” are in place to ensure that requests from that office to exempt records from disclosure are treated the same as any other.

As Paxton has battled his own indictment last year on felony charges alleging violations of state securities law, he’s continued to fight for conservative evangelical causes.

This year he hired lawyers from the Liberty Institute, a Plano-based advocacy group that handles cases for conservative evangelicals.

Jeffrey Mateer, now Paxton’s first assistant attorney general, represented El Paso Bishop Tom Brown and his group before the Texas Supreme Court while he was still with the Liberty Institute.

Last month, Paxton’s office filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Brown and his Word of Life Church in their 6-year-old dispute over El Paso’s domestic-partners ordinance.

Former El Paso Mayor John Cook and his attorney, Mark Walker, then filed the request for communications about the case between Brown’s lawyers and the attorney general’s office.

Paxton spokeswoman Teresa Farfan said last month said that Mateer was deliberately “screened from the matter due to his prior participation.”

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Information from: El Paso Times, http://www.elpasotimes.com

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