Tag Archives: Ken Paxton

Sen. and AG Paxton: Let’s avoid conflict

The Texas Legislature convenes today and will run for the next 140 days — or so — while seeking to do the state’s business. Let’s hope they get it all done in one sitting.

Let’s look briefly, though, at an interesting political juxtaposition.

State Sen. Angela Paxton takes office as a rookie legislator. She won a hard-fought Republican primary this past spring and then cruised to election in the fall.

Then we have Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Angela’s husband, who also won re-election with relative ease in November.

Where might the conflict lie? Well, I’ve been watching Texas politics and government up close for nearly 35 years and this is the first time I’ve been aware of spouses holding elected office in separate branches of government. Yes, we have a father-daughter duo serving at the moment — state Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland and Railroad Commissioner Christy Craddick.

The AG and Sen. Paxton arrangement, though, might present a potential problem once the Legislature gets around to actually legislating. I am thinking specifically of money matters; even more specifically about the issue of salaries for executive branch officials, which the Legislature controls.

How is Sen. Paxton going to avoid any potential conflict of interest if the issue of pay for state officials comes up? Is the senator going to vote to give her husband a pay increase, which could open up questions of whether the senator is feathering her own nest with an affirmative vote? Or, might Sen. Paxton simply abstain?

I would prefer she not take part in any vote having anything to do with financial remuneration involving her husband.

She’s likely smart enough to know better. I trust the AG is as well.

I look forward to keeping an eye on both of them. Sen. Paxton now represents me, as I now reside in Collin County. So does her husband, who as attorney general represents all Texans spread across our vast state.

Be careful, folks.

Preferring AGs who aren’t under indictment

If I might paraphrase Donald John Trump … I prefer attorneys general who aren’t under indictment.

Texas AG Ken Paxton is running for re-election against Justin Nelson. Paxton, the Republican, is favored to win a second term; he is, after all, a Republican running in Texas.

But here’s the thing about Paxton. He has been indicted by a Collin County grand jury on charges of securities fraud.

Paxton goes negative

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this case is that he was indicted by a grand jury in his home county. He represented Collin County as a state representative before he was elected attorney general in 2014. Paxton had a mediocre legislative career before he ascended to higher office.

Indeed, he carried Collin County with 66 percent of the vote on his way to winning the election four years ago. Still, the home folks thought enough of the complaint brought against their former lawmaker to agree to an indictment.

The case is tied up over procedural matters. Paxton hasn’t yet stood trial for the felony charges; if convicted, he faces a potential 99-year prison term.

I just find it weird — even with the presumption of innocence to which Paxton is entitled — that an indicted attorney general would be poised to win re-election. I doubt Nelson will be able to upset Paxton. But still …

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my state’s chief law enforcement officer to operate without the dark cloud of suspicion that hangs over the current attorney general.

Clean house at state AG’s office

Texas can do a lot better than it has done in selecting its top law enforcement officer.

State Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican (naturally!), is seeking re-election against Democratic challenger Justin Nelson. Paxton isn’t a normal incumbent. He happens to be an incumbent who’s been indicted for securities fraud.

But here’s the surreal part of it, the maddening element: Paxton is likely to win re-election when all the ballots are counted on Nov. 6.

I am going to cast my ballot for Nelson.

What’s fascinating to me is that Paxton — who used to represent Collin County, where I now reside — in the Texas Legislature. Yet a Collin County grand jury found enough credible evidence to indict him for securities fraud; Paxton allegedly didn’t register properly as an investment agent.

Here’s the fabulous part of it: While he was in the Legislature, Paxton voted against a bill that would have made it a felony to commit the very crime for which he has been accused.

The Dallas Morning News, which has endorsed Nelson, has taken note of Paxton’s penchant for partisanship while serving as AG. To be honest, I kind of expect such from most politicians in Texas. NOt that it’s acceptable, mind you. The partisanship doesn’t bother me nearly as much as having a state attorney general who is under criminal indictment.

Good grief, man! Can’t we do better than that? Of course we can! Will we do better when given a chance to select an attorney general on Election Day? Uhh, probably not, given the state’s hard-right lean.

Check out the Dallas Morning News editorial here.

The editorial board offers a solid reason to go with the challenger. Then again, I’ve been convinced for some time that Ken Paxton isn’t my guy.

Getting to know the political lay of the land

A move to another region of Texas gives bloggers such as yours truly a chance to get acquainted with the political movers and shakers of the community.

I’ve been sniffing around the Collin County legislative lineup and have discovered that the 2019 Legislature will be received two rookies from this suburban county.

Texas House District 89 will be represented either by Democrat Ray Ash or Republican Candy Noble. We all know this about Texas politics, which is that it’s highly likely the Republican will win the House race to seat the new state representative.

How do I know that? I don’t know it, although it’s important to note that Collin County voters gave Donald J. Trump 55 percent of their ballots cast in 2016.

The race for the Texas Senate had piqued my interest a bit more. Angela Paxton is the GOP nominee; she’ll face off against Democrat Mark Phariss this fall. Paxton is an interesting candidate, in that she is married to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is going to stand trial later this year on charges of securities fraud.

But here’s the question that needs to be dealt with head on: Will a Sen. Angela Paxton be able to vote on budget matters that involve salary matters relating to her husband’s income? That seems to smack of conflict of interest. I believe Paxton would need to tread carefully on that matter if she gets elected, presuming of course that her husband gets acquitted of the felony charges that have been leveled against him.

With all this chatter about Texas “turning blue” in this election cycle, I am not yet holding my breath. We have moved from the deeply red, fiery conservative Texas Panhandle to the doorstep of a county — Dallas County — that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Given my own political bias, I feel a bit more at home politically in this region of Texas.

The learning curve about the politics of these new surroundings remains fairly steep. I’ll need to catch my breath and keep climbing.

No-brainer: Don’t vote on husband’s salary

Angela Paxton is a solid favorite to be elected to the Texas Senate this fall, representing the suburban region north of Dallas.

She won the Republican Party primary earlier this month. Given the state’s heavy GOP leanings, that puts her on the inside lane en route to the Senate.

Her husband happens to be Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who’s likely to be re-elected in the fall general election.

Ahh, but here’s a potential quandary facing a Sen. Paxton: Does she vote on budget matters that set her husband’s salary as the state’s top legal official? There appears to be some gray area here, with ethics experts debating it.

To me it’s a no-brainer. No matter what the Texas Constitution allows, Paxton shouldn’t vote on her husband’s salary. Let her 30 Senate colleagues determine how much the attorney general should earn.

For the life of me I don’t understand why this is even under discussion. According to the Texas Tribune: “She’s going to have to think about what she does before she does it. If they’re doing [increases] for everyone, I don’t think that’s a conflict because everybody’s getting the same raise,” Hugh Brady, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said. “If it’s something special for the attorney general, I think she should step back and pause.”

I disagree with the professor. I don’t think a lawmaker casting a vote that materially affects his or her income passes the smell test, no matter if it’s a vote for all officials or if the vote affects an individual.

Paxton wouldn’t be the first lawmaker to face this issue. GOP State Rep. Tom Craddick’s daughter, Christi, serves on the three-member Texas Railroad Commission. Rep. Craddick has voted through three legislative sessions in favor of state budgets that include salaries for the RRC. I believe that, too, constitutes a conflict of interest, although it would not be as blatant if Angela Paxton were to vote to approve her husband’s salary, given that she and the AG share the same home.

I’ll fall back on a truism that should govern elected officials’ conduct: Just because it’s legal doesn’t always make it right.

Guns in church: strange scenario

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says it’s OK for licensed gun owners can carry their weapons into church.

Is it me or does that seem like the strangest of juxtapositions: guns and houses of worship?

Paxton issued his ruling in the wake of the Sutherland Springs church massacre that left 26 people dead in the worst mass murder in modern Texas history.

I don’t know about you but I am uncomfortable with the idea of guns anywhere near a church sanctuary.

Churches have option to say ‘no’

Paxton says churches, of course, have the option of banning guns on their property. I am going to check with the church my wife, son and I attend to see if it allows firearms into its sanctuary. I am going to pray to Almighty God in heaven that it does not.

Texas legislators loosened prohibitions on concealed-carry laws by allowing guns in churches. I am not as opposed to concealed carry legislation as I used to be. I feared shootouts would occur as road rage erupted into gun violence. Silly me. That hasn’t happened.

I just have this aversion to guns in holy places where people worship in the name of the Prince of Peace.

I’ve touched on this before. Here is an earlier post:

God wouldn’t allow guns in church

Houses of worship deserve FEMA assistance

I can almost hear the grumbling now: The U.S. Constitution prohibits any relationship between government and religious organization, which means churches shouldn’t be eligible for federal emergency relief assistance.

I’ll respond this way: As Col. Sherman T. Potter would say: Mule muffins!

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have asked for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help houses of worship ravaged by the wrath of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey.

Abbott and Paxton wrote in their letter to FEMA: “When Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas, wreaking devastation over a huge swath of the Texas Gulf Coast, scores of churches and houses of worship jumped into action to serve thousands of Americans in their time of need.”

Indeed, those houses of worship also suffered grievously from Harvey’s savagery, just as every other inhabitant along the Texas Gulf Coast.

I get what the U.S. Constitution says about the prohibition against making laws that establish a state religion. This is different. FEMA stands as an agency committed to helping all Americans.

Harvey delivered a killer punch to Texas. It brought substantial misery all along the coast from Corpus Christi to the Golden Triangle — and many miles inland.

Everyone affected by the horrific storm — including houses of worship — deserve assistance from the federal government that aims to serve them.

Enough of the delays in Texas AG’s fraud case

Texans deserve to know whether their state’s attorney general is crooked.

Many of them believe that Ken Paxton is innocent of the charges leveled against him. Many others do not.

Meanwhile, Paxton’s pending trial on securities fraud is getting caught in a tangled web of legal wrangling that is threatening to delay justice well beyond what is reasonable.

A state appeals court has ruled that District Judge George Gallagher surrendered his jurisdiction in the matter when he moved the trial from Collin County to Harris County. State prosecutors are asking the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to overturn the lower-court ruling.

Meanwhile, the rest of the state — at least those of us who care about such matters — is waiting to hear whether the Republican attorney general is guilty of defrauding investors before he became the state’s top law enforcement official.

https://www.texastribune.org/2017/06/02/paxton-prosecutors-want-high-court-overturn-judge-removal/

The Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals ordered Gallagher to vacate all rulings related to the Paxton case, including the one that set his trial for September. That means the trial likely will be delayed again.

Meanwhile, the 2018 election is coming up. Paxton likely will want to run for re-election. Does he submit himself to voters once again while awaiting trial for securities fraud?

Voters’ trust in government isn’t too high as it is. Foot-dragging and legal maneuvering such as this only worsens it.

Let the Texas AG’s trial commence … and conclude

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took office under a cloud.

The cloud remains. It’s still hovering over the Republican politician. Perhaps a trial jury will remove that cloud — one way or another — beginning Sept. 12.

Paxton is going to stand trial on felony charges of securities fraud. A trial judge moved the case from Collin County to Harris County, apparently believing prosecutors’ contention that Paxton’s legal team had tainted the trial jury pool, giving him an unfair advantage.

The AG is accused of misleading investors prior to his taking office in 2015. If convicted, he faces a potential prison term of 99 years.

This change of venue surprises me mildly. Prosecutors had argued that Paxton’s counsel somehow had sought some unfair advantage, given that the attorney hails from Collin County, just north of Dallas.

Why the surprise? Well, a Collin County grand jury managed to indict Paxton more than a year ago. The grand jurors were Paxton’s homies, too, just as a trial jury pool would have been. The notion that a grand jury would indict a former state legislator from that very county seemed to suggest that the county was capable of producing a qualified panel of trial jurors when the time came for it.

The judge, George Gallagher, saw it differently. That’s his call. Hey, he’s the legal eagle, right?

So, the case moves to Harris County, to Houston. Judge Gallagher has set a 10-day time limit for this case to conclude once the trial commences. Of course, the Sept. 12 start date well could be subject to change — perhaps even multiple changes before Paxton gets this case adjudicated.

Let the trial begin. Paxton deserves the chance to remove the cloud that’s hung over him since before he took office.

For that matter, so do millions of other Texans who believe their state’s chief law enforcer should be above reproach.

Texas AG handed surprising setback

Ken Paxton wanted to be tried by a jury of his peers in his home county in Texas.

State lawyers who are prosecuting him on charges of securities fraud said the Texas attorney general’s legal team had poisoned the jury pool and asked the judge for a change of venue.

Today, the judge agreed and moved the case out of Collin County; he also ordered a delay in the trial, I presume to give the principals a chance to find a suitable venue to try the attorney general.

This is a bit of a surprise to me.

It’s because a Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton on securities charges stemming from an allegation that he misled investors involved in a company with which Paxton was involved before he was elected attorney general in 2014.

The way I figured at the time, if a grand jury comprising peers of the attorney general would indict him, then surely a trial judge could find a suitable pool of trial jurors to hear the case and then decide on his guilt or innocence.

Paxton, you see, represented Collin County in the Texas Legislature before running for AG three years ago.

Paxton has suffered a stinging defeat to be sure. He now is going to stand before jurors who are ostensibly neutral in this case, who don’t know the AG personally or who’ve never had the chance to vote for him while he served in the Legislature.

Then again, he is a statewide elected official. Which makes me wonder: Where can one find a jury pool that is totally neutral?