Tag Archives: securities fraud

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.

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?

On to securities fraud trial for Texas AG


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.


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


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.


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

Texas AG getting ahead of himself


Ken Paxton plans to run for re-election in 2018 for a second term as Texas attorney general.

Big deal? Sure it is. The Republican officeholder is facing criminal charges on a couple of fronts, which suggests to me that he’s getting way ahead of himself.


I get what he’s saying. He’s proclaiming his innocence of charges of securities fraud brought by a Collin County grand jury. What’s more, the Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a complaint against Paxton alleging the same thing.

The man could go to jail if he’s convicted.

What’s getting too little attention here is the context of the indictment that brought the charges against the attorney general.

The panel indicted Paxton for failing to report properly the compensation he received for providing investment advice for friends.

As for the context, let’s remember a couple of critical points. Paxton represented Collin County in the Texas Legislature before running for AG in 2014. The grand jury quite likely included individuals who voted for Paxton when he ran for statewide office. Collin County is a reliably Republican area just north of Dallas. It’s no bastion of liberals out to “get” GOP politicians.

Thus, it’s quite possible that the prosecutors who brought the complaint to the grand jury had the goods on Paxton and the grand jury agreed.

Now, though, the attorney general’s flack has announced he plans to declare officially his intention to seek re-election.

The man’s got some work to do before he even thinks about his political future.

Texas AG now faces SEC accusation


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is under indictment for securities fraud.

Now, though, the Securities and Exchange Commission has weighed in on the attorney general, charging him with a similar misdeed.

Let’s see. A Collin County grand jury — in Paxton’s home county — has issued a criminal indictment. The SEC now has accused the AG of failure to disclose he was being paid a commission for investment advice he was giving.

Is there a pattern here? Does the state of Texas really deserve to be represented by a top legal eagle who’s now under a dual-edged complaint?

As one who believes in the presumption of innocence, I have been reluctant to call for Paxton to step down from this high office.

Until now.

Paxton has proclaimed his innocence. Of course he would, yes?

I recall during the 2014 campaign for attorney general, though, that Paxton — who served in the Texas Legislature — actually admitted to doing what the grand jury accused him of doing when it indicted him. The grand jury indicted him for failing to disclose that he had been paid for the investment advice he gave.

Still, Texas voters elected him.

According to the Texas Tribune: “People recruiting investors have a legal obligation to disclose any compensation they are receiving to promote a stock, and we allege that Paxton and White concealed the compensation they were receiving for touting Servergy’s product,” Shamoil T. Shipchandler, director of the SEC’s Fort Worth regional office, said in a news release on the complaint.

SEC joins in

This doesn’t look to me like a political witch hunt. The SEC is a regulatory agency run by professionals who are charged with ensuring that investment policies are followed to the letter.

The grand jury? It’s in the very county Paxton — a Republican — represented in the Legislature. Many of the grand jurors likely voted for the guy.

This doesn’t bode well for the attorney general.

For that matter, it doesn’t bode well for the state’s pursuit of top-notch and credible legal advice from its top lawyer.

I wouldn’t shed a tear if Ken Paxton decided to quit so he could devote his full attention to defending himself against these serious charges.


AG may keep job, even if he’s convicted? Wow!

The Texas Tribune has published an interesting primer on the complexities of Texas law, its constitution and whether the state’s attorney general can keep his job even if he’s convicted of a felony.

Here’s the link. I encourage you to take a look at it and then try to decide what you think about it.


Ken Paxton, a Republican, has been indicted in Collin County on three felony counts alleging securities fraud. He just took office as Texas attorney general in January. He vows to plead not guilty. He won’t quit.

I don’t think he needs to resign as AG while the case is being adjudicated. But if he’s convicted? To me, it’s a no-brainer. Hit the road, Ken.

The Tribune reminds us of a curious quirk in the Texas Constitution, which is that judges and other judicial officials do not have to be practicing lawyers when they take office, although they do need good standing as members of the State Bar of Texas.

Some years ago, Potter and Randall County voters elected the late Hal Miner to preside as judge in the 47th District Court. Miner hadn’t practiced law, as such, for more than two decades. He ran a family business, but stayed active in the state bar.

The question that Paxton could face involves whether he’d lose his license to practice law if he’s convicted of a felony. If he does, then he cannot serve as the state’s top legal counselor. But as the Tribune reports, the law license and a possible felony conviction are separate issues.

Bizarre, eh?

I believe a conviction should compel Paxton to quit — if for no other reason than his credibility as the state’s top law enforcer would be blown apart if a jury finds him guilty of, um, breaking the law.

We should expect more from our attorney general

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is going to have a big start to his work week.

A grand jury in McKinney, about noon Monday, is reportedly going to indict him on at least two felony counts of securities fraud. One of the counts is a first-degree felony, the other is a third-degree felony.

Paxton has essentially admitted to committing the lesser offense. He did so while campaigning for the office to which voters elected him in 2014.

This all brings to mind an essential question about the wisdom of Texas voters: Shouldn’t we demand the very best from our elected officials?

Paxton was elected in a breeze this past November. That, by itself, really isn’t surprising, as Paxton is a Republican running in a heavily Republican state.

However, the guy took office in January as the state’s top legal eagle. Some AGs have cast themselves as major crime fighters; I keep thinking of the late Democrat Jim Mattox, who used to imply wrongly that he’d bring bad guys to justice, even though the office basically deals with civil matters.

Paxton’s indictments don’t suggest the man is morally unfit to hold the office he occupies. However, it galls me greatly that he could get elected for no other reason than he happened to be a member of the political party that calls all — and I mean all — the shots in Texas.

I don’t think Paxton needs to step down while he defends himself against the criminal complaints brought against him. I believe in the presumption of innocence. Thus, there’s no legal obligation for Paxton to recuse himself from his duties.

Yet it becomes difficult for the attorney general — and the office this one leads — to proceed with any matter relating to the very type of infractions that have produced these indictments.

Some of Paxton’s critics have noted that his record in the Legislature wasn’t all that stellar. He was under-qualified politically to ascend to an important statewide office, they said. I didn’t follow his legislative career all that closely, but this upcoming indictment involving securities fraud is a serious matter that needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.

The attorney general of Texas needs — and deserves — to have this matter adjudicated in short order.

For that matter, rank-and-file Texans need this case settled soon as well. Our state’s attorney general must not operate under this cloud. After all, this man works for us.

Should an indicted state AG still serve?

Regarding the upcoming indictment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, reportedly on at least two felony counts of securities fraud, some critics are going to question whether he should continue serving in the office he occupies.


At first blush, my reaction might be for him to step aside.

Then again, I want to be fair. Paxton, a Republican, is entitled to a presumption of innocence. He’s going to be accused formally, it appears, of  third- and first-degree felony counts. He’s admitted to the third-degree accusation that he steered investment clients to a friend of his without notifying the state. The other charge involves an investment company with which he was involved.

A grand jury in Collin County, north of Dallas — which Paxton represented while he served in the Texas Legislature — is set to unseal its indictment Monday in McKinney, according to sources in the know.

It’s all pretty serious stuff, given that Paxton is the state’s leading lawyer and its chief law enforcer.

You just don’t expect the attorney general of your state to be so tainted.

That doesn’t mean he cannot do his job.

The burden of proving his guilt will rest with the state. Until that guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the man who’s accused of the crime is presumed innocent.

Let the man serve if he’s able, even though he’ll likely have his hands full trying to defend himself.