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The newly-appointed Texas secretary of state briefly worked with Trump to challenge the 2020 election results in Pennsylvania

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/23/2021 (John L. Dorman)
a large tall tower with a clock at the top of a building: The Texas State Capitol in Austin. Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images © Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images The Texas State Capitol in Austin. Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images
  • Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott appointed Fort Worth attorney John Scott to oversee the state's elections.
  • Scott briefly sought to help Trump overturn the 2020 presidential results in Pennsylvania.
  • The attorney withdrew from the case a day before its scheduled hearing last November.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday appointed a secretary of state who briefly worked with former President Donald Trump to challenge the 2020 election results in Pennsylvania.

The new secretary of state, John Scott, will manage elections in the Lone Star State at a time when the state has been in the national spotlight over its restrictive election law that was implemented after Trump's 2020 election loss.

The appointment also comes as Trump has pushed for an audit of the Texas presidential results, despite the former president winning the state by nearly 6 points last year, along with GOP legislators proposing a controversial redistricting proposal that voting rights advocates contend would dilute the electoral strength of the state's burgeoning minority population.

Scott, a Fort Worth attorney who was employed by Abbott when the Republican governor was the Texas attorney general, will lead a limited review of the 2020 election results in populous Collin, Dallas, Harris, and Tarrant counties. Of the three counties, Trump won Collin, while Biden won the three latter jurisdictions.

"John understands the importance of protecting the integrity of our elections and building the Texas brand on an international stage," Abbott said in a statement announcing the appointment. "I am confident that John's experience and expertise will enhance his oversight and leadership over the biggest and most thorough election audit in the country."

Scott will serve in the role on an interim basis, as his appointment will require confirmation by the state Senate for final approval.

The legislature is currently not scheduled to meet again until 2023.

Scott's appointment elicited sharp blowback from Democrats and voting groups.

Rose Clouston, the voter protection director for the Texas Democratic Party, criticized Scott for his involvement with GOP efforts to challenge the 2020 election.

"Texans deserve a chief election official who has a career dedicated to the protection of the right to vote and not one who participated in Trump's lawsuits undercutting our democracy," she said in a statement.

Stephanie Gómez, the associate director of Common Cause Texas, an open government organization, blasted Scott as "unsuitable" for the role.

"Not only did Gov. Greg Abbott appoint someone who worked to undermine our 2020 election for partisan interests, he literally waited until Texas legislators left town to avoid the confirmation process until 2023," she told Spectrum News. "The timing of this announcement is clearly intended to subvert our democratic process in a way that allows Greg Abbott's completely unsuitable nominee to oversee our 2022 elections without having to face confirmation hearings."

Scott was among the attorneys who represented Trump as it sought to contest the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, a swing state that Biden won by nearly 81,000 votes out of 6.9 million ballots cast.

However, Scott withdrew from the case, along with Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes, a day before the hearing last November. The election case was eventually dismissed in court.

Scott also represented Texas in litigation regarding the state's voter identification law in 2014.

Hughes was the lead sponsor of the state's restrictive voting law that was signed into law last month after fierce opposition from Democratic legislators - which led them to briefly flee the state for Washington, DC, to call attention to Texas and to highlight federal voting-rights legislation that has languished in Congress for months due to GOP resistance in the US Senate.

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