Embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton got more bad news on Monday when the Texas Ethics Commission narrowly ruled that he cannot accept money from out-of-state donors to pay for fees for his legal defense team. A so-called anonymous inquiry was made to the TEC asking if an individual working in the attorney general’s office may accept “benefits” from people or entities outside Texas. The Texas Tribune has more on the decision that might keep Paxton from using his influence to fight off the mounting criminal charges that he faces.
A draft opinion considered by the commission said a person in the attorney general’s office — including Paxton — would not be prohibited from accepting money in circumstances where an out-of-state donor does not have any pending matters before the attorney general’s office.
But three commissioners – Jim Clancy, Tom Ramsay and Bob Long – voted against the proposal. Four voted for it; five votes are needed to pass an opinion. Clancy said the commission should not pass the proposal without knowing who requested an opinion.
“I don’t know how you can evaluate this without knowing who is the donor and who is the recipient,” he said. “I’m concerned about the unintended consequences.”
But Commissioner Tom Harrison reminded commissioners that Paxton already must report any gifts. “There’s no doubt, at least in my mind, that some donations made are going to be extremely scrutinized by members of the public and the media,” he said.