In theory, a state attorney general is the state’s highest ranking law-enforcement official. It’s therefore problematic when a state A.G. finds himself facing criminal charges.
The Texas Tribune reported yesterday on the latest developments involving the lone Star State’s Republican attorney general.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the state’s top law enforcement officer, turned himself into jail Monday to be booked on felony securities fraud charges.Wearing a pin-striped suit and a red tie, he smiled slightly for his mugshot. Then, he was promptly released from the Collin County Jail on $35,000 bond, according to records with the local sheriff’s office. Afterward, he apparently slipped out of the courthouse undetected, avoiding the throng of waiting media and Democratic protesters.
Paxton’s attorney told reporters that the far-right A.G., less than a year into his first term, does not intend to resign, and will plead not guilty during his upcoming arraignment.
In the meantime, however, Paxton is facing a three-count felony indictment, including two charges for alleged securities fraud.
At issue is a Texas computer company called Servergy, which is facing an investigation into whether it defrauded investors, but which also paid Paxton a commission when he found new Servergy investors. According to the indictment, Paxton successfully encouraged people to invest more than $600,000 in the company, without disclosing his personal financial interests, and despite the fact that he wasn’t licensed as an investment adviser.
The Texas Republican Party issued a brief, almost perfunctory statement asking the public to be patient – the state A.G. “deserves to have his say in a court of law,” GOP officials said – which suggested the party may not be optimistic about Paxton’s future. Indeed, the AP report added, “[U[nlike when Rick Perry smiled for his mug shot last year, Republicans are not rushing to Paxton’s defense.”
If his name seems familiar to those of us outside Texas, msnbc also reported, “A tea party star in Texas, Paxton recently advised county clerks they could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on religious grounds after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the unions nationwide.”
Postscript: Just as an aside, have you noticed how many state attorneys general have found themselves in hot water lately? Utah’s Republican state A.G. is facing charges; Pennsylvania’s Democratic state A.G. may soon be facing charges of her own; and Colorado’s state A.G. is caught up in a soap-opera controversy in which she’s been accused of extortion.