Top Cruz Staffer Follows the Senator’s Footsteps to Become Texas Solicitor General

Top Cruz Staffer Follows the Senator’s Footsteps to Become Texas Solicitor General

AUSTIN, Texas — Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) announced on Wednesday that two of his staffers had accepted leading positions in the Office of the Texas Attorney General, taking the opportunity to follow in his footsteps and serve their home state.

Scott Keller, Cruz’s Chief Counsel, and Bernard McNamee, his Senior Domestic Policy Advisor, will both join Attorney General-elect Ken Paxton when he takes office in January. McNamee will be Paxton’s Chief of Staff, and Keller will  serve as the next Solicitor General of Texas, a position once held by Cruz. Keller graduated from Purdue University and the University of Texas School of Law, and had previously clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Before joining Cruz’s office, McNamee spent several years in key roles at the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and then was a partner with the McGuireWoods law firm. McNamee graduated from the University of Virginia and received his law degree from Emory University.

“Scott Keller and Bernie McNamee are both tremendous legal talents who will serve Texas well,” said Cruz, in a press release congratulating the two. “They are dedicated, tireless professionals and while they will be missed in my Senate office, I am very pleased the Great State of Texas is recognizing the outstanding work they have performed by offering them key leadership positions in the Attorney General’s office.”

The Solicitor General is the state’s chief appellate lawyer, and supervises all civil and criminal appellate litigation involving Texas in both state and federal courts, as well as authoring amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) legal briefs to submit in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts, where Texas has an interest in the outcome. The position is one of immense importance to not just the state of Texas, but also nationally, as Texas has taken a lead role on multiple legal issues of high concern to conservatives. 

Cruz was Texas’ Solicitor General from 2003 to 2008, appointed by Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is leaving that office in January after being elected Texas’ next Governor. During that time, Cruz authored 80 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and argued before the nation’s highest court in nine cases, five of which had successful results, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down Washington D.C.’s handgun ban, and Van Orden v. Perry, which defended the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol.

Paxton made multiple statements throughout his campaign praising Abbott’s tenure as Attorney General, and is widely expected to continue his proactive conservative approach to the office. He has already vowed to continue to support the lawsuit that Abbott filed earlier this month against the Obama administration over the President’s executive orders granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, as Breitbart Texas reported.

Keller and McNamee will not be the only Cruz alumni in Paxton’s office. When Paxtonannounced his transition team in mid-November, he also announced that Chip Roy, Cruz’s former Chief of Staff, would serve as First Assistant Attorney General, second in command to Paxton. Another Paxton appointee, Brantley Starr, served as Assistant Solicitor General under Cruz and will join the Attorney General’s Office as Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel.

Cruz also announced on Wednesday that he had selected a new chief counsel to replace Keller: Ryan Newman, a graduate of West Point and the University of Texas School of Law who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Both Newman and Keller are former students of Cruz’s from UT Law.

Full press release from Senator Cruz’ office:

Sen. Cruz Congratulates Keller, McNamee and Welcomes Newman

Staffers accept leading positions in the Office of the Texas Attorney General; Cruz hires new chief counsel

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today commended two staffers who have accepted high-ranking positions in the Office of the Texas Attorney General, serving under Attorney General-elect Ken Paxton.

Scott Keller, Sen. Cruz’s chief counsel, has been named the next Solicitor General of Texas. Bernard McNamee, Sen. Cruz’s senior domestic policy advisor, has been named Paxton’s Chief of Staff.

“Scott Keller and Bernie McNamee are both tremendous legal talents who will serve Texas well,” said Sen. Cruz. “They are dedicated, tireless professionals and while they will be missed in my Senate office, I am very pleased the Great State of Texas is recognizing the outstanding work they have performed by offering them key leadership positions in the Attorney General’s office.”

Sen. Cruz served as the third Solicitor General of Texas. Keller will become the sixth Solicitor General in January.

Keller graduated from Purdue University in 2004 and received his law degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Keller was a former student of Sen. Cruz’s at The University of Texas School of Law. Before joining Sen. Cruz’s staff as chief counsel, Keller was an attorney at the law firm Yetter Coleman LLP in Austin, Texas.

Ryan Newman joined Cruz’s office as chief counsel on December 3.

Newman graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1998 and served in the Army from 1998-2003. Newman received his law degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007, where he also served as Chief Notes Editor of the Texas Law Review and Associate Editor of the Texas Review of Law and Politics. Like Keller, Newman was a former student of Sen. Cruz’s at The University of Texas School of Law. 

Newman clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Newman comes to Sen. Cruz’s office from the law firm Jones Day, where he focused on legal analysis, strategy, and briefing in complex civil litigation and appeals.

McNamee, who grew up in Houston, has considerable legal and political experience. Before joining Cruz’s staff, he was a partner with McGuireWoods LLP. He also spent many years in the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, serving as Chief Deputy Attorney General, Chief Counsel to the Attorney General, and Deputy Attorney General for Health, Education and Social Services. 

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