Tag Archives: SEC

Pass the scented spray in the Texas Senate; this one stinks

The Texas Senate needs to be fumigated. Already!

Republican state Sen. Angela Paxton, the wife of the Texas attorney general, who is awaiting trial on securities fraud, has just introduced legislation that would give her husband, Ken Paxton, the authority to decide who is violating, um, securities fraud.

This one not only doesn’t pass the smell test, it stinks up the entire Texas Senate. Pass the scented spray!

This measure disappoints me greatly. Sen. Paxton, from McKinney, is a freshman legislator. However, she ought to know better than to step with both feet into this legal pile of dookey.

Not a conflict of interest, but it’s close

Senate Bill 860 would broaden the power to the attorney general’s office. As the Texas Tribune reports: “In doing so, the bill would grant broad powers to the attorney general’s consumer protection division, allowing it to accept or reject entrepreneurial applicants who seek to hawk innovative produces outside of the state’s current standards and regulations.”

What about the AG? Ken Paxton was indicted in 2017 by a Collin County grand jury for securities fraud in connection with an allegation that he didn’t provide proper notification that he was acting as an investment adviser. He’s awaiting trial.

Good grief! My major concern about Sen. Angela Paxton service dealt with how she might vote on matters involving her husband’s salary as a state constitutional officer. I didn’t see this one coming.

I get that AG Paxton should be presumed innocent, but why in the world would Sen. Paxton want to step so directly into this legal mess involving her husband?

This one stinks to high heaven!

No legislative interference on this football matter, please

Texas House Bill 412 needs to go . . . nowhere!

What is it? It is a bill proposed by state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, that requires the University of Texas and Texas A&M University to play a football game sometime in November each year.

That’s right. Rep. Larson — an A&M alumnus — wants the Legislature to intervene in a decision that should rest entirely with the athletic directors of the respective universities.

I’ve already endorsed the so-called “end game.” I want the Longhorns and Aggies to resume their storied football rivalry, which ended in 2011 when A&M left the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference.

When the Aggies bolted, the series ended. Period.

But is the Legislature the right avenue to travel to bring this thing back? No. It’s the kind of feel-good legislation one sees on occasion. Legislators and members of Congress occasionally get all worked up when tragedy strikes; they seek a legislative remedy to prevent horrible events from recurring.

This kind of legislation sort of falls into that category.

I respect Rep. Larson’s desire to bring the rivalry back. I do not believe the Texas Legislature should waste a moment of its time debating it. Lawmakers have a lot of other matters to consider. You know, small stuff such as, oh, water policy, highway construction, education reform, tax-and-spend matters. The 2019 Legislature might even consider whether to rescind the authority it granted cities to install and deploy red-light cameras to catch traffic violators in the act of breaking the law; don’t go there, lawmakers.

Larson did make a cogent point, though. “It’s time for the folks in Austin and College Station to get in a room and make a deal to restore the rivalry,” he told the Texas Tribune.

You are correct, sir. They can — and should — hammer it out without interference from the Texas Legislature.

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 deserves to stand trial at home

My jaw dropped. My mouth is gaping. I cannot believe what I have just read.

Prosecutors seeking to convict Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is set to stand trial for an alleged securities fraud matter, have asked for a change of venue because they say they cannot get a fair trial in Collin County, a suburban region just north of Dallas.

Why the jaw-drop?

Well, Paxton represented Collin County in the Texas Legislature before he was elected AG in 2014. That’s what made his indictment by a Collin County grand jury all the more remarkable, the way I saw it. This wasn’t a group of liberal activists seeking revenge against a conservative statewide politician. The grand jury was a panel of Paxton’s peers.

Prosecutors need not seek a change of venue, given that a Collin County grand jury brought the charges against Paxton in the first place.

The grand jury indicted Paxton on allegations that he misled investors in a company; the alleged crime occurred before he became attorney general.

I don’t know about you, but I find this allegation of bias against them to be soaked in irony.

As the Texas Tribune reported: “Ken Paxton, like all Texans, has the right to be tried in the County he was charged in,” Paxton lawyer Dan Cogdell said in a statement. “The Special Prosecutors have filed a 60-page pleading trying to thwart that right. That these prosecutors are somehow painting themselves as ‘victims’ of some nonexistent conspiracy is extremely telling.”

I believe the trial court will be able to seat a jury that can determine this case fairly and without bias. Just look at what the grand jury did to bring this case to trial.

The case is set to go to trial on May 1. Let it take place in Collin County.

Missing a Thanksgiving tradition

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So help me, I don’t know why I am thinking of this.

But I just am.

It occurred to me today that I am missing an annual Thanksgiving event. It’s a sporting spectacle: the University of Texas-Texas A&M University football game.

The Aggies tossed the intense rivalry into the crapper when they bolted from the Big 12 and joined the Southeastern Conference a few years back. I heard something about UT’s football network driving the Aggies toward the SEC. I’m not very savvy about the business of college football, so I won’t comment on that.

But we’ve lived in Texas now for nearly 33 years. I’ve grown accustomed to many of this state’s traditions. The annual UT-A&M game on Thanksgiving Day was one of them.

It’s no longer part of the state’s celebration of this uniquely American holiday.

I don’t have any particular loyalties here. Our sons didn’t attend either school. I know plenty of Texas Exes and Aggies.

I’ve learned, for instance, that there’s no such thing as a “former Aggie.” I also learned long ago that Aggies refer to their longtime rival as “texas university.”

I guess one might say — and I don’t mention this with any antipathy — that Aggies are a touch more obnoxious about the rivalry than their Longhorn friends.

However, it’s all grown a bit muted since the two schools no longer face off on Thanksgiving either in Austin or College Station.

Yeah, I miss it. I only can imagine how I would feel if I actually felt an allegiance to either school.

On to securities fraud trial for Texas AG

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took office under a serious cloud.

Allegations had been leveled at him for securities fraud. Then came a criminal indictment from a Collin County grand jury, comprising individuals Paxton used to represent in the Legislature. Indeed, it’s a good bet many of the grand jurors had voted for him when he ran for AG in 2014.

They indicted him for failing to report that he had benefited from investment advice he had given to clients. This couldn’t be construed seriously as a political witch hunt, given that the indictment came from Paxton’s home county.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Today, though, the state’s highest criminal appellate court — the Court of Criminal Appeals — decided against hearing Paxton’s appeal. The ruling, thus, clears the way for Paxton’s case to head to trial.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/10/12/court-criminal-appeals-declines-hear-paxton-case/

A federal judge earlier had tossed a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint against Paxton.

So, let’s decide this matter once and for all.

According to the Texas Tribune: “Last summer, a Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton on criminal charges of securities fraud and failure to register with the state securities board. He is accused of misleading investors in a company from before he took office as Texas’ top lawyer.”

This isn’t a penny ante case. It involves an individual, Paxton, whose reputation is supposed to be above reproach. It’s the position he holds. As the state’s top lawyer, he shouldn’t have this cloud hovering over him. Neither should the state AG’s office, which is really more important to the rest of us than a single politician’s reputation.

The Tribune reports that a trial could start as early as next spring. If Paxton is convicted, he faces a possible prison term of 99 years.

My own hope is that a court convene a trial as soon as possible so we can put this issue aside — one way or another.

Texas AG seeks to do the seemingly impossible

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton deserves credit for perseverance.

He’s been indicted by a grand jury on charges of securities fraud. Paxton says he’s innocent and has entered a plea to that effect. He’s now taking his case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal appellate court.

He wants the CCA to do for him what it did for former Gov. Rick Perry, when it tossed out an accusation that Perry had coerced a public official by demanding her resignation after she had pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge. Perry had been indicted by a Travis County grand jury and complained that the Democratic-leaning county had stacked the grand jury with Democrats pre-disposed to indict a Republican governor.

Perry made the case to the all-Republican Court of Criminal Appeals.

Paxton’s indictment is quite a bit different.

A Collin County grand jury indicted him on charges that he failed to improperly report personal profit from investment he had given; the Securities and Exchange Commission also has filed a complaint against the AG.

Now, why is this so interesting?

Paxton represented Collin County before he was elected attorney general in 2014. The county is among the more Republican-leaning counties in Texas. I don’t know this, but I’d be willing to bet real American money that many of the grand jurors voted for him as attorney general and also for him when he ran for the Legislature, where he represented Collin County.

The grand jury indicted its home boy, not some political outsider.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/08/03/brief-august-3-2016/

Which makes me wonder whether the attorney general is going to get a favorable ruling from the Court of Criminal Appeals.

AG’s case takes interesting turn

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s journey through the state’s judicial system has taken another interesting turn.

The 5th Court of Appeals, based in Dallas, has rejected Paxton’s request that the securities fraud case against him be tossed out. According to the appellate court, the case should go to trial and Paxton should have to make the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he broke securities law by failing to properly report income he received while providing financial advice to clients.

Paxton has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought by — get this — a Collin County grand jury, which happens to be in Paxton’s home county.

This case ought to be settled by a trial court.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/06/01/appeals-court-upholds-fraud-charges-against-paxton/

What’s next? Paxton’s legal team is considering whether to take it to the state’s highest criminal appellate court, the Court of Criminal Appeals. The special prosecutor’s office assigned to this case said it is confident the CCA will uphold the lower court ruling against the AG.

I understand fully that Paxton is “innocent until proven guilty.” He has tried all along the way to get the case thrown out. The courts have ruled repeatedly against him, saying the charges against him have merit.

Will the Republican AG prevail if he takes it to the all-GOP Court of Criminal Appeals? That might be his best shot at getting it thrown out.

The Texas Tribune reported: “During a hearing before the court last month, Paxton’s lawyers most prominently argued that the grand jury that indicted him was improperly selected. The court rejected that argument in its ruling Wednesday.

“‘After reviewing the record and, in particular, the process used by the district judge, we conclude the complained-of method of selecting the grand jury is not a complaint that would render the grand jury illegally formed,’ Chief Justice Carolyn Wright wrote.”

The way I look at it, if he’s innocent of the charges brought against him by the grand jury — and by the complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission — then he ought to make the case in court.

Make the state prove its case and let a jury of his peers decide.

 

Pay attention, Gov. Abbott

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There’s little I can add to this blog post by Brian Sweany of Texas Monthly.

Except, perhaps, this: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has a sharp legal mind and he ought to know more than he’s acknowledging regarding the conduct of the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton.

Here’s Sweany’s blog post:

http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/abbotts-feigned-ignorance/

Sweany asks a pertinent question: Why doesn’t the governor know more than he knew more than a year ago about Paxton’s conduct?

The AG has been indicted by a Collin County grand jury on felony accusations of securities fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a complaint as well. Paxton is accused of failure to disclose properly income he earned while giving investment advice.

As for Abbott’s “feigned ignorance,” as Sweany calls it, I’ll just add this.

Abbott was a trial judge in Houston before being elected to the Texas Supreme Court. He then was elected as the state’s attorney general, a post he held until January 2015 when he became the state’s governor.

Paxton succeeded Abbott at the AG’s office.

It would seem implausible that the governor knows nothing more now than he did a year ago. I don’t want Abbott to convict his Republican colleague, either, through statements to the media.

Still, to borrow a phrase: Gov. Abbott, what did you know and when did you know it?

 

Texas AG slams door on transparency

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Ken Paxton’s tenure as Texas attorney general has gotten off to a rocky start.

First, a Collin County grand jury indicted the Republican politician on charges of securities fraud, accusing him of failing to report income he derived from giving investment advice to a friend. The Securities and Exchange Commission followed suit with a complaint of its own.

Bad start, man.

Then the attorney general accepts the resignations of two top aides and agrees to keep paying them. What’s worse in this case, according to the Dallas Morning News, is that the AG isn’t explaining why he’s continuing to pay the ex-staffers.

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20160509-editorial-ken-paxton-should-answer-our-reporters-questions.ece

The Morning News accuses Paxton of bullying the newspaper’s reporters who keep asking questions about the payments. He’s not willing to explain why he’s using these particular public funds in this manner.

The newspaper has blistered Paxton in an editorial. It demands, correctly in my view, that he hold his office — and himself — accountable for the actions he has taken regarding the resignations of these individuals.

The Morning News asks a pertinent question, noting that state law allows public agencies to grant paid leave when it finds “good cause” to do so. Paxton decided to categorize their departure as paid leave, thus justifying the continued payments to folks who no longer work for the state. The paper asks: What’s the good cause? The attorney general isn’t saying.

The paper offers this bit of advice to the public as it ponders the AG’s behavior: “Voters should take note.”