AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — As Texas was devastated by a historic winter storm that left millions cold and in the dark, republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, traveled to Utah for what a spokesman says were “previously scheduled meetings”.

Ken Paxton’s trip was not previously known publicly, and he made no mention of being out of state while lashing out at Texas’ grid operators on Twitter and urging residents to report price gouging.

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It remains unclear when Paxton left. Spokesman Ian Prior said in a statement that the attorney general “did not leave Texas until after power had returned to most of the state, including his own home.” He said the purpose of the trip, which was first reported by The Dallas Morning News, was meetings with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Ric Cantrell, a spokesman for Reyes, said Paxton was in Utah last Wednesday — when by nightfall nearly 2 million people were still without power in Texas, and millions more either had no water or were under boil-water notices.

It is the third time that one of Texas’ top elected leaders was found to be out of state during the statewide crisis, after Sen. Ted Cruz took a family vacation to Mexico during the deadly winter storm.

State Rep. Gary Gates, who represents House District 28 in suburban Houston, flew to Florida in a private jet on February 17 after his Fort Bend County home lost power. Gates has reportedly said his decision was motivated by the health of his family.

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According to Prior, Paxton and Reyes met to discuss an antitrust lawsuit against Google and attend a demonstration of a law enforcement simulation. Prior is a spokesman for Paxton’s campaign; the Texas attorney general’s office did not respond to questions about the trip.

It’s unclear whether the attorney general has returned to Texas.

Word of the trip gave Paxton’s critics another line of attack after months of scrutiny over his former aides reporting him to the FBI over accusations of bribery. He is also still awaiting trial over a 2015 indictment on felony securities fraud charges.

“He continues in a long line of Texas Republicans that have utterly failed Texans when we need it the most,” Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBSDFW.com Staff