Texas’s top lawyer, Attorney General Ken Paxton, turned himself in to Collin County officials today, took his mugshot and paid his $35,000 bail after being indicted on 3 felony counts. Paxton is charged with a third-degree felony charge of failing to register with the State Securities Board and two first-degree charges of securities fraud. The maximum sentence in Texas for a first-degree felony is 99 years.
Paxton apparently failed to disclose to investors that he was getting a commission for their investments, while mischaracterizing himself as an investor. That same company, Servergy Inc., is now under federal investigation for defrauding investors, and yes Paxton’s name is of interest there as well.
Given that the former director of the State Bar of Texas said Paxton, “could very easily be disbarred.” for telling county officials they don’t have to follow the Supreme Court’s decision, it is clear he has a totally lack of respect for the law, and is unfit to serve as top attorney for the state of Texas.
Somewhere in Texas, Paxton’s primary opponents are saying, “I told you so.” Yes, his opponents used the investigation in the primary, and Democrats used it in the general, but alas Texas voters remain asleep at the wheel. And, to some degree, voters have to take some responsibility for a lack of oversight and accountability of their elected officials.
What this helps to expose is that, while up until now the GOP has benefitted from low turnout and voter suppression, there comes a point where the party becomes so weak it can no longer inoculate itself from its most extreme elements. A small army of paranoid, anti-government, anti-intellectuals have hijacked our state government through the GOP primary process. Texans must start voting if they want leaders who don’t act as feedstock for The Daily Show.
Not surprisingly the GOP establishment has been mostly silent. During the Primary Ted Cruz called Paxton a “good friend” and appeared in his campaign commercials. Although Cruz also publically acknowledged Perry’s indictment, he so far has been silent on Paxton’s felony charges.
The Republican Party of Texas released a statement of tacit support saying he, “deserves to have his say in a court of law, rather than be judged in a court of public opinion that is presided over by liberal interest groups.”
It is a complete 180 from what they said just days before about Planned Parenthood, or even a mere few sentences above their plea for Paxton reminding their base he, “investigated the odious acts of Planned Parenthood.” Their previous statement on Planned Parenthood asked them to stop political activity because of the mere accusation of impropriety. I guess they figure no one’s watching so surely no one is keeping score…
Speaking of keeping score, there are some more seedier corners of the right wing, like Empower Texans, who are trying to make this indictment out to be some big RINO conspiracy, but luckily they are becoming less influential as people grow tired of their fear factory that regularly cranks out scorecards and Tea Party challengers to what remains of the moderates in the Texas legislature. Oh and Empower Texans also gave Paxton $100,000, so can you really blame them for wanting to protect their investment?
With Perry’s indictment Republican’s had one of their favorite whipping boys, “liberal Travis County,” to hide behind, but that won’t work against Collin County and the Texas Rangers. Well, at least I hope not, but that hasn’t stopped Paxton or the Texas GOP from attempting to tarnish the legendary lawmen’s reputation for their own political cover.
Now for the real questions of integrity: will Paxton step down? Will he force taxpayers to cover his legal fees? And, Will Governor Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz and the Republican Party continue to stand behind their man?
Here is the statement from Craig McDonald of Texans for Public Justice, the watchdog group that filed the complaint against Paxton:
“Ken Paxton has abused people’s faith in his public office. He has engaged in outright deception to personally profit at others’ expense. These qualities make him dangerously unfit to be attorney general. This is why Attorney General Paxton must step aside.“The only acceptable response to Paxton’s indictment is his resignation. The state’s highest law enforcement officer must be held to the highest standards of conduct.”
Below is a statement from the Texas Democratic Party which has called for his resignation:
Republican Ken Paxton is not above the law. No politician is, especially the state’s chief law enforcement official.
Paxton is an admitted lawbreaker. Now he needs to spare Texas the embarrassment of a drawn out legal fight in the public eye, take responsibility, and accept the consequences.
It is time for Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton to resign. It is time to restore the public trust. It is time for a Republican to finally act responsibly.
Texas Democrats believe that government should work for everyone, we respect the rule of law and the responsibility of holding public office. We believe Texans deserve a chief law enforcement official that shares those values.
Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and all Texas Republicans have a choice to make, they can back a crook or they can join Democrats and call for Paxton’s resignation. Corruption festers when power is left unchecked.
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) August 3, 2015
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) August 3, 2015
Woah, that was quick! Names are already floating for a Paxton replacement…
— David Saleh Rauf (@davidSrauf) August 3, 2015