Tag Archives: Texas Ethics Commission

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.

Servergy Sued Again for Fraud

Servergy, Inc. – the company at the center of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal woes – has been sued by a group of Alabama investors who claim they were defrauded into purchasing shares of the company.  The suit alleges that Servergy made numerous misrepresentations about its business to entice new investors to buy into the company.  The investors claim that Servergy made unsupported claims about the sales of its signature product  – a small server – and represented that IBM and other giants were poised to buy the company.  Paxton himself brought investors to the table without revealing that he was getting a commission.  Tea Party favorite Paxton never bought into the company but did receive 100,000 shares as a gift that he somehow forgot to put on his tax returns and his required disclosures with the Texas Ethics Commission.

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.

Texas Ethics Commission Rules Paxton Can’t Accept Out-of-State Donations to Pay his Legal Team

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.