The Texas Attorney General has been under indictment on three felony counts for almost two years and he’s still AG.
Well, what did you expect? This is Texas we’re talking about!
After a brief flurry of attention, this story has been more that a bit neglected. However, that’s about to change. In case your attention was otherwise occupied back then, a bit of background is in order.
The bigoted, anti-gay, Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, is TexASS-deep in a hot, steaming pile of his own doo-doo! And, it’s got nothing to do with Mexicans, Muslims or marriage equality. It seems Texas’ top lawyer (and tea party fave) may have committed securities fraud to the tune of $100,000+.
In May of 2015 he was disciplined by the Texas State Securities Board and paid a $1,000 dollar fine for acting as an investment advisor when he solicited clients for a friend’s investment firm, Mowery Capital Management (MCM). Problem is, he wasn’t registered as an investment advisor. That’s a “no-no” under Texas law.
Paxton called this “an administrative error.”
This went down in 2004, 2005 and 2012, at which time he was also gainfully employed as a Republican state representative for District 70 in Collin County.
According to the disciplinary order,
Respondent was compensated by MCM for each solicitation resulting in a client relationship with MCM. Specifically, MCM agreed to pay Respondent 30 percent of asset management fees collected by MCM from each client that Respondent solicited successfully.
Somehow, Representative Paxton forgot to include this on his personal financial statements, filed with the Texas Ethics Commission. (Probably just another three “administrative errors,” don’tcha know.)
After the disciplinary proceedings, a watchdog group, Texans for Public Justice, requested an investigation into whether Paxton committed any crimes in his dealings. This got tossed around like a hot potato until Colin County’s district attorney handed off the spud to the Texas Rangers. (And no, Chuck Norris wasn’t involved.)
The spud may have morphed into the proverbial can of worms. As Special Prosecutor Kent Schaffer put it,
The Rangers went out to investigate one thing, and they came back with information on something else. It’s turned into something different than when they started.
While not giving specifics, Schaffer said there are fraud allegations exceeding $100,000. Under Texas law, that’s a first degree felony with a potential reward of a 99 year vacation at the Iron Bar Resort. Also, acting as an investment advisor, without being registered, is a third degree felony.
In July of 2015 Paxton was indicted on three felony counts. One third degree and two first degree.
Ok, the back has been ordered and grounded. Flash forward to the present.
Last Thursday (2/16/17) Paxton found out he’ll be facing two separate trials on the three counts.
The first trial will be for the third-degree felony count: failure to register as an investment advisor indictment. Following that trial, he’ll find himself back in court on the twin first-degree securities fraud cases.
As the special prosecutor, Kent Schaffer, explained,
There’s nothing in common except the defendant. So for people who are sitting on a jury it’s a much more confusing situation.
Paxton’s lawyers were not pleased. They tried to object on monetary grounds.
That either double or triples the expense to Collin County. I think from a judicial resources standpoint given the fee structure that’s in place in this case that’s absurd. We are not opposed and indeed we request that they be tried together.
Sadly, for the AG, their argument did no win out.
The prosecutors also asked the judge for a change of venue. Schaffer explained that there has been an attempt to taint the county’s jury pool.
There were extraordinary and unusual things that were done in order to persuade people to form an opinion based on things outside of the courtroom.
The judge didn’t rule on the change of venue, but did say that he planned to move forward with picking a jury in Collin County.
They’ll start picking the jury in April with the first trial beginning on May, the first.