With the Collin County district attorney refusing to look into the securities case involving Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the local grand jury has gone rogue and started an investigation of its own.
I’m not sure this is the kind of investigation that Senator Joan Huffman was looking for yesterday with her bill to take the Public Integrity Unit out of the Travis County district attorneys office and put it into the Texas Rangers. Huffman also wants any prosecutions to occur in the alleged public offender’s hometown. In fact, her bill raises questions in my mind, if it was law, could a local district attorney shut down an investigation by a runaway grand jury because the case had not first been investigated by the Rangers.
The Houston Chronicle’s Lauren McGaughy got the break on reporting that the Collin County grand jury had asked the Travis County district attorney for its files in the Paxton securities case. District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg had previously decided the proper venue for the case was Collin County and referred it to Collin District Attorney Greg Willis. Paxton is from Collin County and any possible crimes occurred there. Willis, who is a Paxton friend and former business partner, has refused to act.
“Collin County appears to be the venue where this evidence needs to be heard,” says the letter from the grand jury vice foreman. “Therefore, we are requesting the documents be sent to us as soon as possible.”
The letter, obtained by the Austin Bureau on Wednesday, comes a week after the Collin County District Attorney’s office indicated it had not and would not take up the case unless it receives a criminal complaint from a law enforcement agency.
Texans for Public Justice, the public watchdog group that filed the criminal complaint against Paxton in Travis County, since has asked Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor to look into the case.
The Dallas Morning News has called for a special prosecutor in the case. Dallas area legal blogger Ty Clevenger posted a copy of the letter on his site.
A Collin County grand jury has asked the Travis County District Attorney’s Office to provide jurors with the results of its investigation into securities law violations by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to a letter that I received this afternoon.* If the grand jury has gone rogue, that cannot bode well for Mr. Paxton or Collin County DA Greg Willis, who appears to be stonewalling the case against Mr. Paxton.
Paxton admitted to the Texas State Securities Board that on multiple occasions he sold securities without registering as a securities dealer. The board issued a reprimand and fined him $1,000. The Morning News noted that the board’s actions did not address potential criminal issues: “These are not nitpicky issues. State securities law imposes registration requirements to protect the public from victimization by investment frauds and scams. The fact that Paxton violated the law repeatedly over several years suggests a troubling pattern unbecoming of the esteemed office he now holds. That’s why an independent prosecutor needs to assume control of this case.”