Texas AG says woman arrested for dumpster fire behind office, slams media over ‘reckless speculation’
The Texas Attorney General’s Office said a 42-year-old woman was arrested in connection with unintentionally setting fire to a dumpster outside its office.
State Attorney General Ken Paxton also assailed the local media who he said “misled the public about the nature of this crime.”
In a tweet, Paxton’s office said the unidentified woman was seen Wednesday discarding what appeared to be a lit cigarette into a dumpster behind the building in Austin.
The Texas Department of Public Safety questioned the woman and determined the fire was unintentional, Paxton said. She was charged with criminal mischief equal to or greater than $25,000 but less than $30,000.
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Surveillance footage released by Paxton’s office shows flames coming from the dumpster before the blaze was eventually extinguished.
While the fire was determined not to have been set on purpose, Paxton criticized media coverage of the incident.
“I strongly condemn the irresponsible and reckless speculation by journalists and other public figures,” he said. “I have no doubt that those with a responsibility for informing the public of the truth will issue retractions and apologize for spreading false disinformation about this incident.”
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The dumpster fire happened just hours after Paxton was accused of several serious crimes. Paxton was ordered to preserve related documents and evidence.
Local media shared video of the fire, and it went viral on Twitter. Users then speculated as to why a large trash dumpster was set on fire outside of a state agency.
A Republican-led investigation has accused Paxton of trying to hide an affair, misusing his office to help a donor, skirting protocols and building a culture of fear and retaliation in his office.
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So far, the investigating committee has not laid out next steps or said whether a recommendation to impeach or censure Paxton is possible.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.