Ever since Republican State Senator and nominee for attorney general Ken Paxton admitted to violating state security laws in May, the possibility of a criminal investigation has loomed over his head. In July, the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice filed the criminal complaint necessary to initiate an investigation by the Texas Public Integrity Unit.
Last week, Gregg Cox, the chief of the Public Integrity Unit announced that the investigation into Paxton would not proceed until after the election. Cox explained that “We have a policy that we do not take action on complaints when that action could affect a pending election when it is close to that election. It’s just not proper for the criminal justice system to be used in any way to affect the outcome of an election.”
Cox also noted that this has been a long-standing policy of the Public Integrity Unit, because of the volume of complaints they get around election time.
In May, Paxton admitted to soliciting investment clients without being registered with the Texas Securities Board, and paid a $1000 fine. According to laws that Paxton himself voted for, Paxton’s actions constitute a third-degree felony.
Had the criminal investigation into Paxton’s illegal activity proceeded before the election, he could have been stripped of his nomination. Nonetheless, as it stands, if he wins Paxton could still be faced with a grand jury investigation within just months of taking statewide office. Were he to be convicted, Ken Paxton would be ineligible to serve as attorney general, as state law prohibits a convicted felon from holding the office.
Democrats like candidate for attorney general Sam Houston have called on Paxton to step up and explain his actions. Paxton has largely been MIA on the campaign trail–in July his spokesman even physically blocked a reporter to stop him from asking questions about Paxton’s questionable activity. Paxton has also refused Sam Houston’s challenge to discuss the issues publicly for Texans in a debate.
It’s clear that Ken Paxton is facing some serious problems. While he may have gotten a temporary reprieve on the criminal investigation until election day, that possible felony will be awaiting Paxton on the other side.