Tag Archives: Texas Attorney General

Ken Paxton Wants More Power to Prosecute Abortion Crimes – But Has No Evidence that Such Crimes Are Being Committed

Indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (still awaiting trial) is polishing up his conservative bona fides by claiming that local prosecutors are not going after abortion related crimes.   Paxton is going to the Legislature seeking funding and authority for his office to prosecute abortion-related crimes – something that is currently left to local prosecutors.  Paxton cites an agreement between 5 large county district attorneys in claiming that Texas law is not being enforced by local prosecutors.  This appears to be wrong on two fronts.  First, the DA’s agreement was made in connection with ongoing litigation over a 2017 state abortion law.  Five of the district attorneys in the eight Texas counties that actually have abortion facilities said they would not enforce the challenged portions of the law while the issue of constitutionality was being litigated.  There never was a permanent agreement to not enforce the law – it was a “wait and see” while the challenges to the law were working their way through the courts.  Second, Paxton produced no actual evidence of any abortion-related crimes.  Travis County DA Margaret Moore who has jurisdiction over several abortion facilities has indicated that she is not aware of a single abortion-related complaint that could be investigated or prosecuted.

 

Looking to Lower Your Ethical Standards? Just Follow Ken Paxton’s Lead (cont.)

Still embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has reached another low point in his quest to dismantle the very low ethical standards Texas imposes on its political class.  Paxton is refusing to defend the Texas Ethics Commission in a lawsuit filed against it by one of Paxton’s major campaign contributors.   Empower Texas an Astroturf organization funded and chaired Tim Dunn, a Midland based oil and gas developer, is seeking to strip the TEC of its powers to regulate and monitor campaign spending and financing in Texas.  The TEC requires candidates to report their campaign contributions, loans and expenditures on a regular basis in order for the public to know who is greasing the political wheels in Texas.  The AG’s office is typically required to defend state agencies when they are sued but has some discretion to decline to do so.  Why would Paxton not defend the TEC?  Other than his own well-reported ethical problems, it turns out that Dunn and Empower Texas are Paxton’s biggest source of campaign cash.  According to the Houston Chronicle:

Since 2014, Paxton’s campaign has received $377,000 from the Empower Texans PAC, according to campaign finance disclosures filed with the commission. Empower Texans also secured a $1 million loan for Paxton’s campaign in 2014, and Dunn is Paxton’s largest donor, shelling out $405,000 since 2014, records show.

Well, perhaps it is a good thing that an attorney as apparently ethically challenged as Paxton is not defending the case as he might just botch the effort by accident.  The result, however, is that the taxpayers will be out about $600,000 for outside counsel hired by the TEC which is a huge hit for the agency and detracts from their mission.  The Houston Chronicle has the full story here.

Ken Paxton Butts in Again

Vexatious litigant and embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed another lawsuit to waste taxpayer dollars and deflect attention from his own considerable legal woes.   Paxton is suing the City of Austin for an alleged violation of the state’s open carry law by banning guns from its city hall, according to the Austin American-Statesman.  Red predicts that Mr. P will fail in his efforts to coerce Austin into complying with his Tea Party and NRA agenda.  The language of the open carry law provides that guns can be prohibited in courts or “offices utilized by the court.”  Austin’s city hall (and many others in Texas) frequently hold various types of court proceedings.  Austin temple of local democracy, for example, hosts a community court for low-level offenders, and the City based its gun ban on that fact. Whether that’s actually a court is an open question. Three weeks ago, Paxton issued a non-binding AG’s opinion claiming there is no court in Austin’s city hall and threatened to sue Austin unless it blinked first.  City officials apparently had little respect for the legal stylings of an indicted AG.  Paxton, ever eager for a spotlight that will cement his Tea Party bona fides has now sued.

Looking to Lower Your Ethical Standards? Just Follow Ken Paxton’s Lead.

Embattled but apparently unashamed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton may have reached a new ethical low in his fight to stave off a criminal conviction.  Paxton  is reported to have accepted a $100,000 gift to help pay for his own criminal defense from the head of a medical-imaging company that his office investigated for Medicaid fraud.

Preferred Imaging founder James Webb gave Paxton at least $100,000 to help cover his mounting criminal defense bills.  Now Red thinks everyone is entitled to a good criminal defense and very few actually get one.  But when you are the state’s top legal official, it is more than a little suspicious when you are taking large amounts of money from someone your office is investigating.

Be prepared for the usual side-stepping and soft shoe from Paxton as he dances around yet another ethical minefield.  Despite the fact that Webb’s company settled a $3.5 million whistleblower lawsuit this month, Paxton is now claiming that federal prosecutors took the lead and that he had no direct involvement. No involvement other than to cash the check, that is.  Of course, Webb expected nothing in return for his largess.  And if you believer that, Red has Republican presidential nominee to sell you.

 

Paxton’s Pals Pay to Keep Politician out of Pokey

“Friends” of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton gave him almost $330,000 to help pay for his legal defense against felony securities fraud charges, according to Paxton’s most recent filing with the Texas Ethics Commission.   Paxton’s personal financial statement establishes that he is funding a high-profile criminal defense team with the help of so-called friends and associates.  And not a single one of those friends and/or associates expects a single favor in return for helping keep Paxton out of the pokey.

 Paxton is using a loophole in the state ethics laws that allow state officials to keep gifts from people who are allegedly not seeking anything in return.  Under state bribery laws, elected officials are not allowed to receive gifts from people or entities subject to their authority.  But as attorney general, Paxton has authority over a wide range of legal issues and controls the state’s largest law department   Nonetheless,  Paxton sought an exception allowing “gifts from family members and those ‘independent’ of an officeholder’s ‘official status.’” In essence if this passes muster, Paxton will be allowed to tap a few rich folks for unlimited sums of cash to pay his attorneys based on the idea that none of these folks have an interest in getting anything in return because they are long time friends, buddies, pals and confidants of the state’s embattled top lawyer.
And Red has a bridge to sell you.

Did Greg Abbott Kill Lawsuit Against Trump U?

After documents were released pursuant to a open records request, it was revealed that the Texas Attorney General’s office had determined that Trump University was a scam worthy of pursuit under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.  But now the Dallas Morning News reveals that a potential lawsuit against good ol’ Trump U was scuttled by none other than Our Poor Idiot Governor Greg Abbott.  Did Abbott – who was not shy about suing the federal government when he was AG – stop action against Donald Trump?  And did he get his reward in the form of campaign contributions from the self-proclaimed billionaire?

According to a DMN investigation, plans for the lawsuit and settlement negotiations had been carefully prepared; the AG’s office was ready to take action  and was looking at damages of at least $5.4 million for the violations – at least until the plan was killed by Abbott.

John Owens, the former deputy chief of the AG’s consumer protection division smells something rotten in the decision to let Trump skate after fleecing Texas consumers for millions of dollars.

“It was swept under the rug, and the consumers were left with no one to go to bat for them,” according to Owens who also claimed that the decision to not sue Trump was clearly political.  His consumer protection division routinely got approval to sue schools who offered bogus diplomas.  The only difference in this case was Trump’s status as a political player.

And what was the payoff for Greg Abbott?  A few years later, Trump donated $35,000 to Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign.  Other sources are reporting that Florida AG Pam Bondi dropped her office’s investigation and refused to join in a lawsuit against Trump just days after receiving a $25,000 campaign contribution from Trump.

So now we know just about exactly how much Texas consumers can be bought and sold for.  It’s a little more expensive than in Florida, but not much.

What Greg Abbott’s Office Had to Say about Trump University

Our Poor Idiot Governor Greg Abbott has resoundingly endorsed Donald Trump for President of these United States.  But when his office investigated good ol’ Trump U back in 2010, it reached the conclusion that the whole scheme was a scam designed to fleece the gullible.   The Texas Attorney General Office’s investigation of deceptive trade practices at Trump University determined that the promises made to students were “virtually impossible to achieve.”

In the documents unearthed by a Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, Assistant Attorney General Rick Berlin stated that Trump University seminars  targeted real estate novices and promised “to teach these novices everything they need to know to be a successful residential real estate broker — in 3 days.”  But Berlin also noted, that in Texas, “to become licensed as a real estate broker you must have 900 hours of classroom instruction and 2 years selling experience.” Berlin also concluded that the information provided to students by Trump University “is essentially unusable,” and students “will be unable to recoup their investment in the course, much less make a profit, as promised by Trump U.  .  . . In addition to encouraging unlicensed activity (which is a misdemeanor in Texas), the course materials in a number of respects are simply wrong under Texas law.”

Apparently the AG’s investigation was enough to drive the Trump U hucksters out of Texas as the “University” stopped doing business in Texas shortly afterwards.

So kudos to OPIG for having driven a con man out of the state.  So exactly why does he want to bring him back now?  Does Red smell a vice-presidential hope in the air?

Ken Paxton – Vexatious Litigant (cont.)

It’s not enough that Ken Paxton is suing the federal government (again) – this time over the important issue of who gets to pee where.  But now it comes out that Paxton went actively looking for a client to challenge new guidelines aimed at protecting the rights of transgender students.   The Texas Tribune reports that Paxton approached at least two school districts in his quest to find a client to represent.  Paxton was turned down after his assistants made a pitch to the Wichita Falls ISD to enact an identity at birth peeing policy.   But the WFISD board turned him down.

“I feel like in this situation we’ve been put between a rock and a hard place by both the federal and our state government where we are the ones who would be the sacrificial lambs effectively in this fight,” said board member Elizabeth Yeager. “I think that would be completely a waste of time and a distraction from our school business of educating students.”

Wichita Falls Superintendent Michael Kurht also came out against adopting the policy, citing legal counsel that the school district’s current policies were in compliance with the new federal guidelines.  “I don’t know that my time and the district’s time is best suited to do this,” he said.

Kudos to the WFISD for having the sense to not pick an unnecessary fight and to not make their transgender students into a political pawn.

Unfortunately, the folks at the tiny Harrold ISD were not so immune to the charms of the wily Paxton.   After being approached by Paxton’s surrogates, the Harrold ISD adopted a transgender policy clearly targeted to run afoul of the federal guidelines.  Finding a willing dupe for his political agenda, Paxton issued the following duplicitous statement:

“Harrold Independent School District fulfilled a responsibility to their community and adopted a bathroom policy that puts the safety of their students first. Unfortunately the policy placed them at odds with federal directives handed down earlier this month. That means the district is in the crosshairs of the Obama administration, which has maintained it will punish anyone who doesn’t comply with their orders.”

Yes, they were goaded into adopting a policy so that Paxton would have yet another chance to file a frivolous lawsuit and waste more of your taxpayer dollars.  When a non-government lawyer goes looking for a client unsolicited they have a name for it – Barratry.  When Ken Paxton does it nothing happens.

 

Ken Paxton – Vexacious Litigant

Embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton just can’t avoid the spotlight – or perhaps thinks that getting his office involved in a matter that doesn’t concern the State of Texas will divert the people’s attention from his own legal problems.  This time, Paxton is using Texas taxpayer money to intervene in a lawsuit on behalf of Exxon-Mobil – an outfit that typically is thought capable of carrying its own legal water.

The U.S. Virgin Islands’ Attorney General, Claude Walker, is seeking documents from Exxon related to an investigation into whether the energy giant covered up its internal investigation into climate change and misled shareholders about the impact of climate change on the company’s bottom line.  In that regard, the USVI issued a subpoena.  Exxon sued in Tarrant County district court seeking to quash the subpoena.  Paxton’s office filed a brief in support of Exxon.  Paxton decried the USVI’s attorney general’s investigation as “ridiculous” and a “fishing expedition of the worst kind.”  Kowtowing to his base in prototypical TeaPartySpeak, Paxton described the subpoena as “an effort to punish Exxon for daring to hold an opinion on climate change that differs from that of radical environmentalists.”

Red could probably not care less about whether Exxon has to cough up some documents or whether it was less than forthcoming with respect to its investigations into climate change.  Red does care about the limited resources of the Texas AG’s office being used for blatantly political purposes and to help line the coffers of Paxton’s re-election campaign fund.  Paxton was a major recipient of donations from the energy industry and his intervention in this matter in the week before Exxon’s annual shareholders’ meeting seems just a little too coincidental.  Texas has had some pathetic excuses for an AG before, but Paxton is putting the bar so low that no future AG will ever be able to limbo under it.

More Trouble for Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General and Tea Party Hero Ken Paxton faces additional legal troubles.  Numerous outlets are reporting that the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Paxton with misleading investors in a technology company.   The SEC filed the charges Monday in federal court in Sherman. The allegations are similar to those Paxton faces in a  indictment in Collin County.

Paxton is named in the SEC’s complaint along with William Mapp who founded Servergy Inc.   The SEC claims that Paxton raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Servergy without disclosing that he was earning a commission.  According to the SEC complaint, Paxton persuaded five investors to put $840,000 into Servergy.  One month later, Paxton received 100,000 shares of stock in the company. Paxton’s story is that the shares were a gift from Mapp and not a commission.

And this is the chief legal official of our great state.