Only in Texas, where politics has become a race to the bottom and a contest to elect the most shrill and least qualified, would you see the spectacle of a standing governor and now the current attorney general being booked for a criminal offense, both within the same year.
To wit, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton came to the Collin County jail on Monday to be booked for charges that he misled investors and did not disclose payments he received for referring clients as part of his private business before he assumed office in January of this year.
Ken Paxton was fingerprinted and photographed at the Collin County jail as the media jostled with each other for room in the parking lot outside. The media feeding frenzy was closely akin to the scene just one year ago when ex-Texas Gov. Rick Perry (who was still in office at the time) was booked following abuse of power charges after a questionable veto back in 2013.
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Former Governor Perry defiantly welcomed the media after he was booked at an Austin jail, but Paxton slipped out after posting his $35,000 bond Monday, and has not commented yet. In fact, there has been no comment from Ken Paxton nor his attorney since news of the indictment came out over the weekend.
More on Texas attorney general Ken Paxton arrest
Court filings show Paxton is charged with two counts of first-degree securities fraud and one count of failing to register with state securities regulators. Of note, each of the fraud charges could result in five to 99 years in prison.
Political and legal analysts point out that questions about Ken Paxton’s business dealings have dogged his first seven months on the job. Aides have characterized the criminal investigation as a political smear campaign led by two special prosecutors with an agenda.
One allegation claims that Paxton encouraged investors to put money in Servergy Inc., a tech startup now under investigation by the SEC. Records show that Paxton listed himself as a shareholder in Servergy, and his name is among the search terms that Servergy used to comply with a federal subpoena.
Statement from Texas Republican Party
The Republican Party of Texas published a statement Monday commenting that Ken Paxton deserved his day in court, and spoke positively of his first months as attorney general, especially regarding his recent investigation of nonprofit Planned Parenthood.
“There’s a reason why Texans have warily observed this news. Some of the outrageous events surrounding this sloppy process certainly do not typify the level of quality that Texans expect from our judicial system,” party spokesman Aaron Whitehead noted in the statement.