Indictments Are Imminent For Texas’s Attorney General

On Monday, per WFAA, the state’s top law enforcement official will be charged with multiple felonies.

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AP Photo/Eric Gay

WFAA reports that a Collin County grand jury has indicted Ken Paxton on several felony charges. The charges, per WFAA, will be unsealed on Monday, so it’s unclear what he’ll be charged with, but we can make some educated guesses (SEE UPDATE, BELOW):

Special prosecutors in the Paxton case told News 8 they planned to present a third-degree charge of failing to register with the state securities board, as the law requires. They also said they planned to present a first degree felony charge against Paxton accusing him of securities fraud. All indications are that charge is related to Servergy, a McKinney-based company that has been under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As WFAA notes, Paxton can continue to serve under indictment, as his predecessor Jim Mattox did back in the 1980s, and as Rick Perry did more recently. Like all indicted people, Paxton should be considered innocent until proven guilty, and the Perry example illustrates why Texas law is so sanguine about indicted officials. Our former governor was indicted on charges of coercion and abuse of power in 2014; the former charge was thrown out by a state appeals court last week, and I would be shocked if a jury finds him guilty of the latter. Paxton, however, is unlikely to be so lucky.

Will the public pay attention, though? The potential third-degree felony charge they mention is, again, the one that Paxton admitted to more than a year ago. Here, again, is what I wrote about it at the time. Here’s what Jay Root wrote about it at the time, May 2014, for the Texas Tribune. Here’s Christy Hoppe, with the Dallas Morning News, on how the McKinney police reacted to the news, more than a year ago. Here’s Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News, writing in May 2014 about a complaint filed with the national Securities and Exchange Commission, days after Paxton was reprimanded by the state Securities Board.

I could go on, but I think the point is clear enough. Paxton admitted to a felony before he was elected attorney general—before he even won the Republican nomination, in fact. This was widely documented in the Texas press at the time. That didn’t stop Paxton from winning the primary runoff in late May, buoyed by a pseudo-endorsement from Ted Cruz and the Texas conservative grassroots’ unhinged animus against anyone—in this case, state representative Dan Branch—with a known professional or personal association with Joe Straus.

In other words, our attorney general isn’t the political equivalent of a lemon. It was a matter of public record, during his campaign for statewide office, that Paxton could easily face felony charges while serving as Texas’s top law enforcement official, or—best case scenario, if you believe his spokesman, Anthony Holm—that Paxton’s election would leave Texas with an attorney general who commits the occasional felony by accident, and gets away with nothing more than a formal reprimand from the state Securities Board because no one bothers to follow up with the prosecutors.

The good news is that, as far as anyone knows, Paxton’s travails are Paxton’s alone; the charges relate to his private legal practice. Texas still has a competent attorney general’s office, with plenty of talent in critical roles, including Scott Keller as solicitor general; Bernard McNamee as chief of staff; Chip Roy as first assistant attorney general; and David Maxwell as director of law enforcement, among others, not to mention countless attorneys and other professionals who work for the office, rather than whoever happens to be the attorney general at the time. The bad news? We get the elected officials we deserve. I’d like to think Texas deserves better. In 2014, a majority of voters decided we did not. 

UPDATE: Manny Fernandez, at the New York Times, reports that Paxton will face three charges: one for the aforementioned failure to register as an investment advisor representative, which is a third-degree felony, and two for securities fraud, a first-degree felony. 

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  • WUSRPH

    If anyone were to try to remove Paxton from office he could try to use the “forgiveness doctrine” on the first charge since the voters allegedly knew about it when they elected him…..but the other two charges were unknown so that defense will not work. It is more than doubtful, however, that the Leg. will do anything UNLESS he is convicted and tries to hold onto his office during an appeal. He is certain to file motion after motion to strike the charges and, since it is his home county, he would hope that a favorable judge would rule for him. Handling those motions at the trial and appeals level will eat up many months, just has it has in the Perry case. His term could well be nearly over or even finished before any trial. This raises the question of would he seek re-election while under indictment and, if so, would enough of his TP supporters believe it is all a conspiracy to drive God’s lawyer from office that he could be renominated while still facing the charges. Needless-to-say, it is going to be another interesting period in Texas history.

    As you noted, there are plenty of people at the AG’s to carry on its daily functions….In fact, state law specifically gives the First Assistant the full authority of the office in the absence of the attorney general (say while away being tried)….But Paxton is certain to try to maintain an “everything is fine” attitude in public, although I doubt he will be making himself any more accessible to the media and to anyone but a selected group of people.
    (Of course, he’s been doing that for more than a year anyway.)

    I bet Paxton now really regrets that the case did not stay in Travis County. Had it been handled by the PIU all his supporters and the TROLL-types would be screaming “DEMOCRATIC CONSPIRACY”. Of course, that it is all a “conspiracy” to drive God’s lawyer from office is already the official line…but it will be just a little bit harder to sell now that the indictments have been returned in Collin County—home of Plano the fifth most politically conservative city in the U.S. Plus the fact that special prosecutors were part of Tom DeLay’s successful fight against the last Democratic Conspiracy. But that does not mean that we will not be hearing a lot about “CONSPIRACY” from the Troll and company anyway.

    Here is a story on the major state officials indicted since 1917.

    http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/before-ken-paxton-10-texas-officials-indicted-sinc/nnBW3/#c3711ab4.3428300.735811

    • Indiana Pearl

      Mr. W, are there any charges you find unexpected?

      • WUSRPH

        All I really know is what I have read in the newspapers. The first indictment is supposedly for the already know referring of law clients to his friend the investment counselor for which he received a 30% commission. That is the case he tried to handle with a plea to the State Securities Board. The other two indictments are probably related to the speculation about his role in promoting investments in a company run by his friend in which it is alleged that he claimed to personally be an investor. That company is under investigation by the SEC. It was not part of the earlier matter. The information about it is what the Texas Rangers are alleged to have dug up after they were asked to investigate the case. I suspect that the question raised by the additional indictments is whether he put up any money for his “share” of the company and whether it was a straight deal.

  • http://www.fortbendconservative.org/ John Bernard Books

    I’m in favor of the Tx Rep Ron Reynolds defense, if I’m convicted its racism. Worked for him.

    Reynolds was elected by a 110% majority after being convicted of 6 felonies….I guess we now determine guilt or innocence by skin color….SMH.

    • WUSRPH

      That will be a hard defense for Paxton to use, especially in Collin County…I suspect he will instead claim that it is all a conspiracy by the godless homos to drive God’s lawyer from office.

      • Indiana Pearl

        I’ll pray the homos are successful!

      • http://www.fortbendconservative.org/ John Bernard Books

        You mean because dems can’t be racist there is no reverse racism? I wonder how the Supreme’s feel about Fisher vs UT?

    • WUSRPH

      TROLL CORRECTION: Reynolds was reelected after having been convicted of six MISDEMEANORS. BUT THE CONVICTION HAD BEEN OVERTURNED. He had been indicted for six felonies, but the jury refused to find against him on those charges and, instead, found him guilty of misdemeanors. That conviction, however, was immediately overturned by the trial judge. He was supposed to go to trial again on this coming Monday but on Friday the prosecutor dropped the felony charges and said he might file misdemeanor charges later. The charges are for barratry….which some people would call “ambulance chasing”. Reynolds was reelected with 66.98% of the vote. The Troll’s GOP candidate got 33.02%. It just kills the Troll to be represented by a Black Democrat.

      http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/barratry

      • http://www.fortbendconservative.org/ John Bernard Books

        Dummazz correction the convictions were overturned after the Nov 2014 election. Dems do not care if you’re convicted/indicted they will elect you anyway.
        My point which went way over the low information poster heads is it doesn’t bother dems if indicted/convicted, then it shouldn’t bother republicans.
        Wear it like a badge.
        Tx Rep Reynolds not only goes to trial again Monday he has several other lawsuits/charges pending. Gotta make the dems proud he’s there rep.

        • WUSRPH

          TROLL CORRECTION: The reason why the convictions were overturned AFTER the Nov. General Election was because he had NOT BEEN CONVICTED until after the election. At the time of the election was charged, but had not been convicted of any offense. Also ambulance chasing as a crime does not compare with deliberate securities fraud.

          Your “they will elect you anyway” appears to also apply to GOP voters…How else do you explain the election of Paxton when all knew that he had admitted committing what is a third degree felony?

          • José

            Apparently some folks have trouble differentiating “conviction” from “indictment” or even “accusation”. That’s troubling, regardless of whether their error results from a general misunderstanding of our legal system or from an admiration of the sort of systems that one finds in autocratic governments.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Booksie is not the best Texas has to offer.

          • http://www.fortbendconservative.org/ John Bernard Books

            So an indictment doesn’t really count….OIC

          • WUSRPH

            Not in our legal system….where you are innocent until convicted…Ask Governor Perry and Ken Paxton this question.

          • http://www.fortbendconservative.org/ John Bernard Books

            You meant an indictment doesn’t count if you’re a dem….dems fantasy world is different from the grownup world.

  • Beerman

    An old friend and business partner warned me back in the 70’s that you learn the most about an “investment advisor’s” character not from what he does when he knows people are watching, but from what he does when he thinks people are not watching. It appears that God’s Lawyer and his Christian beliefs may not be very Christian?

    • http://www.fortbendconservative.org/ John Bernard Books

      Seriously dems have character? Dems lie, cheat, and steal because they can what do they know about character?

  • Slick

    This is what we get for living in a one party state, where we allow those in power to suppress the electorate at will. Texas Republicans are controlled by a clique of mullahs who made their choice. They knew he was shady, a flawed candidate and individual. But they backed him regardless. Look at who’s in charge at the Republican Party of Texas and you’ll have your answer.

  • Blue Dogs

    Big question is whether Paxton will be taking a mug shot!

    • WUSRPH

      He will be if he is arraigned….Even Rick had to take one….but apparently they do not put the number across the chest as in the good old days (or at least in the movies). That spoils the picture for use in an opponent’s ads since it now looks like any other picture.

  • WUSRPH

    The 62-page memo that Erica said she had to read was NOT the Leg. Council’s analysis.
    Instead it is the governor’s position paper. . I am still looking for that promised Leg. Council memo. If you see one, send a copy my way.

    Abbott’s argument appears to be that the Legislature has been using trickery and magic words in the way it structures the appropriations bill in order to frustrate the governor’s ability to veto much of anything. Of course, that is absolutely true, but that does not mean that what he did meets the legal standards. (See prior thread)

    • Erica Grieder

      Lol–yes, that’s about how I see it too.

    • Slick

      That’s exactly right — they have found a way to operate within the law to achieve their objectives. Abbott has not. If he had a solid legal argument, it could be offered in one page, but he has none, so he needs 62 to attempt to justify his actions. Fail.

  • Beerman

    Paxton/Holm/Booksie are following the John Gotti man’tra: “You only lie when you’re afraid.”

    • http://www.fortbendconservative.org/ John Bernard Books

      If that is true why do dems always lie….

  • http://www.fortbendconservative.org/ John Bernard Books

    Nuttin to see move along….

    http://pushjunction.com/l/19194

  • Slick

    I wonder how Wallace Hall is feeling these days about his investment in Ken Paxton. He paid $35K and all he got was one stinkin’ AG opinion.

  • donuthin2

    I think it is interesting that the law and order, church goin, gun totin bunch of so called conservatives are the quickest to violate the law.

  • 6660splendidday

    http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/07/30/farce-strong-enough-word-describe-outrageous-planned-parenthood-hearing-texas-legislature/ Texas lawmakers spent four-and-a-half hours “investigating” whether an
    entity that does not provide the legal service of fetal tissue donation
    has violated any laws while it doesn’t provide that legal service.

    Abortion has been legal across the United States since 1973.
    Collecting fetal tissue for medical research purposes is legal under federal law.
    Neither Texas lawmakers nor the Texas attorney general has jurisdiction over enforcing federal law concerning tissue donations.
    Medical providers can be reimbursed for certain costs associated with collecting tissue for research purposes with the informed consent of the researchers and the pregnant donor.
    Recording someone without their consent in the State of California is illegal. (there’s more)

    Read the above and I think you will agree that Texas does, indeed, have a very serious problem with Ken Paxton. However, he is just a part of a serious problem which includes the rest of the religious fanatics running this state.
    Then, of course, we must consider the dim-witted electorate that puts fools like this in into office.