The Great Pen Caper: In 2013 Ken Paxton picked up a $1,000 Montblanc pen from a Collin County metal detector tray. Fifteen months later, after being identified by a sheriff reviewing video surveillance, incoming Attorney General Ken Paxton returned the pen to its rightful owner.
The Securities Caper: In August 2015, a Collin County grand jury charged Paxton with two first-degree felony counts of securities fraud and a third-degree count of failing to register with the Texas State Securities Board. The prosecution alleged that Paxton urged investors to put $600,000 into tech firm Servergy without disclosing he would earn a commission and that he owned stock in the McKinney company. Paxton was advising clients without a license for Mowery Capital Management. The Texas Securities Board was seeking to revoke the company’s investment advisor registration when the unlicensed activity came to light.
The Affair: Texas AG Ken Paxton forgot he was married to Texas Senator Angela Paxton. Not to worry, he recommended the woman with whom he was having an affair for a job with a wealthy donor, Nate Paul, conveniently transferring her from her job with the Texas Senate.
The Relationship: In August 2019, the FBI raided the home and company office of real estate investor Nate Paul, a Paxton political donor. Paxton acted to protect Paul, arranging a meeting with the local district attorney’s office and appointing a special prosecutor to examine Paul’s complaints about law enforcement.
In October 2020, all hell broke loose in the office of the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Seven top aides within the Attorney General’s office issued a whistleblower letter accusing their boss of bribery, abuse of power, and other “potential criminal offenses.” All seven have since resigned, been fired, or put on leave. Four of them have filed a suit claiming retaliation and intimidation. The lawsuit alleges that AG Paxton told his staff to find a way to release information on the Paul raid, intervene in a lawsuit involving Paul and the nonprofit Mitte Foundation, and issue a legal opinion about in-person foreclosures sales during the pandemic that would protect Paul’s properties.
The Anti-Union Caper: For years, state workers have protected a payroll deduction for union dues, defeating legislative attempts aimed at weakening union membership in session after session. In June 2020, AG Ken Paxton tried a new tactic to circumvent laws and the legislature. He issued an AG opinion that limits the right of employees to voluntarily request deduction of union dues from their paycheck. The Texas Comptroller is working on new rules to comply and considering an unwieldy agency-by-agency approach. The indicted Texas AG has figured out another way to get around the law.
The Anti-Democracy Caper: In May 2020, a federal district judge in San Antonio ruled that “any eligible Texas voter who seeks to vote by mail in order to avoid transmission of Covid-19 can apply for, receive and cast an absentee ballot in upcoming elections during the pendency of pandemic circumstances.”
The indicted Texas AG Kenneth Paxton raced to the appeals court to overturn the ruling. When Harris County, with a larger population than 26 states, decided to allow 12 drop off sites for mail ballots, AG Paxton rushed to limit sites to only one. When the Harris County Elections Administrator allowed several 24-hour voting sites, Paxton issued an opinion to limit that option.
Whenever a judge ruled in favor of broadening ballot access, Paxton appealed. He made sure that Texans had the most restrictive access to mail ballots in the country. Despite his efforts, one-tenth of the voters casting ballots in Texas in 2020 did so by mail. Apparently Paxton was so busy with appeals that he waited one month after the presidential election to send a letter to Harris County officials saying they didn’t inform the secretary of state in a timely fashion when they created an Election Administrator office in July and then selected an administrator to run it.
[Alice Embree is an Austin writer and activist who serves on the board of directors of the New Journalism Project, is associate editor of The Rag Blog, and was a founder of The Rag, Austin’s legendary underground paper, in 1966.]
- Read more articles and concoctions by Alice Embree on The Rag Blog.