Texas Attorney General Explains Why He Had to Go to Utah During Last Week’s Deadly Freeze

Texas' attorney general is speaking out after he said he was unfairly singled out for leaving the state for work during last week's deadly winter weather.

"I had previously planned meetings in Utah to meet with the Utah Attorney General on imminent legal issues that required my physical presence to complete," Ken Paxton tweeted Tuesday.

"While the media does its job to drum up controversies by writing stories to generate clicks and revenue, I will continue to do my job to enforce the law and ensure that law enforcement has all the tools to keep Texans safe," Paxton, 58, added.

On Monday, The Dallas Morning News and The Houston Chronicle reported Paxton and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, also 58, traveled to Utah last week.

At the time, millions of Texans were grappling with power outages and other problems amid unusually cold temperatures and punishing snow and ice.

Dozens of deaths have been linked to the weather in Texas and other parts of the country.

The newly reported trip came on the heels of Sen. Ted Cruz's decision to travel last week to the beaches of Mexico with his family — a move that drew widespread criticism as tone-deaf, given Cruz's role.

Paxton said, however, that his trip was work related.

He flew to Utah to meet with that state's attorney general, Sean Reyes, on several occasions between Wednesday and Friday in Salt Lake City.

"During their time together, the [attorneys general] discussed current investigations and litigation, including antitrust actions against Google," Reyes' spokesman, Richard Piatt, tells PEOPLE.

Piatt would not confirm whether the meetings could've taken place virtually or whether that option was considered.

A spokesperson for Paxton could not be reached for comment.

Like Cruz, Texas state Rep. Gary Gates was similarly criticized for flying to Florida amid the weather.

Cruz, 50, later admitted his trip was a "mistake," while Gates, 61, explained to the Chronicle that his private flight to Florida was necessary because a pipe burst in his home, which caused some flooding.

Paxton said Tuesday that he and his wife had "no power" at their home for about three days.

"This past week Texas saw some of the coldest temperatures and many, if not most, went without critical supplies," he noted, before explaining he was "required" to travel to Utah last week.

But the Democratic Party state chair, Gilberto Hinojosa, said in a statement that the Republican attorney general and Cruz had either been "fleeing their responsibilities for Texans or fleeing the state entirely."

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