It looks like the same Texas Republican who claimed President Obama’s immigration actions were “illegal” is in some deep legal trouble of his own.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted by a grand jury on “two counts of first-degree securities fraud and a charge of failing to register with state securities regulators,” according to the New York Times.
First-degree felonies are punishable by up to life in prison. And with Paxton arrested and booked yesterday, he becomes the second high-ranking Texas official — following fellow Republican Rick Perry — to be indicted while in office this year.
Paxton is accused of encouraging investors in 2011 to put more than $600,000 into a McKinney-based technology company, Servergy Inc. He is charged with failing to disclose to investors that he was making a commission on their investment. And he is alleged to have misrepresented himself as an investor in the company.
The charges stem from when Paxton was still a practicing private lawyer and member of the Texas House of Representatives in 2011, with allegations of financial misconduct trailing Paxton throughout his run for Attorney General, resulting in Paxton admitting an “error” and paying a fine at one point:
Mr. Paxton was reprimanded last year by the Texas State Securities Board and paid a civil fine of $1,000 in connection with some of the alleged securities violations, which involved soliciting clients for Mowery Capital Management LLC, a firm based in McKinney, Texas. He admitted at that time that he didn’t register with the state securities board, calling it an administrative error.
But a liberal watchdog group, Texans for Public Justice, filed a complaint last year, saying the punishment was insufficient and that the 52-year-old conservative should face criminal prosecution.
“Attorney General Ken Paxton will plead not guilty to these accusations, and he will demand a trial by jury,” said Paxton lawyer’s in a statement. “He is looking forward to the opportunity to tell his side of the story in the courtroom.”
Meanwhile, Paxton is part of the Texas leadership — including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — leading 25 other states in the lawsuit against President Obama’s immigration actions, putting millions of immigrant families eligible for work permits and protection from deportation in legal limbo.
Legal scholars and activists alike have opposed the politically-motivated lawsuit, with Paxton, Abbott, Patrick and other plaintiffs notably “judge-shopping” for a friendly court that would rule in their favor, ultimately settling on the notoriously anti-immigrant Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas.
Nationally-known attorney David Leopold, former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the legal complaint “[read] more like a factually challenged press release than a well-reasoned legal complaint.”
None of the legal facts seemed to matter much to Paxton, though, who when announcing that Tennessee and Nevada had joined Texas’s lawsuit, railed on Obama’s immigration actions as “lawless,” “illegal,” an “overreach,” an “abuse of powers,” and “rogue.”
Now, Paxton could face life in prison for some alleged “rogue” actions of his own.