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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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?