Last week was a bad time to be an aide to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton with hot public opinions — they cost his top assistant a federal judgeship and another deputy his job.
On Dec. 13, the White House withdrew Paxton’s first assistant Jeff Mateer’s nomination to become a U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District of Texas after his comments that transgender children were part of “Satan’s Plan” were widely reported.
Mateer was nominated by President Donald Trump in September to a bench in the Sherman Division and quickly drew fire from Democrats for speeches he gave in 2015 in which he said same-sex marriage leads to “disgusting” new forms of matrimony. In another, Mateer stated: “Guess what? I attend a conservative Baptist church. We discriminate, all right. On the basis of sexual orientation, we discriminate.”
Mateer’s nomination was withdrawn after Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, refused to give him a hearing.
Mateer, who previously served as general counsel to the religious freedom organization Liberty Legal Institute before he was hired by Paxton in 2016, said he was disappointed that his nomination had no path forward and that he received criticism for his religious beliefs.
“I’m disappointed but I do understand the decision regarding the judicial nomination and I’m not surprised in light of the current climate in Washington D.C.,” Mateer said. “At the end of the day I think it’s unfortunate that my confirmation received opposition because of my personal religious beliefs.’’
Had he been allowed to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mateer said he would have said he would have testified that he could be a fair and impartial federal judge.
“I’ve demonstrated I believe in almost 27 years in law practice that I’ve been fair and impartial and treated others with dignity and respect including judges, opposing counsel and coworkers,” Mateer said.
Mateer continues to have Paxton’s support.
“Regardless of the actions taken regarding Jeff Mateer’s nomination, I am proud to have him leading my office. Jeff has done a remarkable job advancing the Office of the Attorney General’s mission and I am glad to have him continue as my most trusted adviser,” Paxton said.
And on Dec. 14, Paxton’s former associate deputy attorney general Andrew Leonie submitted his resignation after labeling the anti-sexual harassment #Me Too movement as “pathetic” in a Facebook post.
In the post, which was deleted after an article in The Dallas Morning News called attention to it, Leonie wrote: “Aren’t you also tired of all the pathetic ‘me too’ victim claims? If every woman is a ‘victim’, so is every man. If everyone is a victim, no one is. Victim means nothing anymore.”
Marc Rylander, director of communications for the Texas AG’s Office, confirmed Leonie’s resignation.
“The views he expressed on social media do not reflect our values. The OAG is committed to promoting and maintaining a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment,” Rylander said.
Leonie did not respond to a request for comment sent through social media.