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Friday, September 29, 2023

Acquitted by the Texas Senate, Ken Paxton Nonetheless Faces Authorized Issues

Ken Paxton, the embattled lawyer normal of Texas, survived an impeachment vote within the State Senate over the weekend, however the case is way from behind him: The U.S. Justice Division nonetheless has an open investigation over lots of the identical allegations of corruption and abuse of workplace.

And in October, Mr. Paxton’s legal professionals will probably be in courtroom with state prosecutors to set a trial date for his pending indictment on two counts of securities fraud, an eight-year-old case that the senators didn’t take up immediately of their acquittal vote on Saturday.

His lawyer, Dan Cogdell, predicted that the securities case could be rapidly handled.

“They must dismiss it, and in the event that they don’t dismiss it, we’ll try to beat them there similar to we beat them right here,” he mentioned on Saturday of the state fees. He was much less prepared to make a prediction in regards to the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Division’s public integrity part. “I don’t converse to the F.B.I. — I attempt to not,” he mentioned.

Mr. Paxton has confronted a cloud of authorized troubles since he was sworn in as lawyer normal in 2015, changing Greg Abbott, who’s now governor. He has been twice re-elected, partially by aligning himself with the right-leaning politics championed by former President Donald J. Trump. Voters delivered snug victories to Mr. Paxton even after his indictment and after a number of of his high aides got here ahead with claims that he had abused his workplace by serving to a rich donor, the topic of the current try and oust him from workplace.

However authorized consultants mentioned that after the Senate acquittal, Mr. Paxton might face a extra severe authorized risk by the pending Justice Division investigation. State prosecutors mentioned in February that the division is trying into allegations made by the whistle-blowers that Mr. Paxton prolonged uncommon assist from his workplace to profit a political donor, Nate Paul, an Austin actual property investor, and that Mr. Paul had paid for renovations to his home and employed a girl he was having an affair with.

The case was taken over by the Justice Division’s public integrity part in Washington, the state prosecutors mentioned, after the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace for the Western District of Texas had been recused. The explanation for the recusal was not defined, and the division has not responded to inquiries.

Federal brokers in Texas have been accused by Mr. Paul of misconduct, and it was Mr. Paul’s profitable try and get them investigated by Mr. Paxton that shaped a serious a part of the whistle-blowers’ allegations. The takeover by brokers in Washington might have been executed to keep away from the looks of any battle within the Texas workplace.

Federal investigators are more likely to depend on proof and testimony that was made public through the current legislative hearings. Greater than a dozen witnesses described how Mr. Paxton repeatedly used his workplace to assist Mr. Paul.

In June, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Paul with making false statements to monetary establishments by exaggerating the worth of his belongings, telling mortgage firms and credit score unions that he had more cash than he did. The case might present an incentive to Mr. Paul to cooperate with the federal authorities within the investigation of Mr. Paxton, authorized analysts mentioned.

However time could also be on Mr. Paxton’s aspect. Federal investigations usually drag on for months and years, and Mr. Paxton’s legal professionals could possibly be relying on the likelihood {that a} new Republican administration may be much less inclined to pursue the case.

Mr. Paxton and his supporters have lengthy sought to painting the circumstances towards him as a plot by political opponents — the Biden administration, liberals in Texas and reasonable Republicans within the Texas Home — to undermine the get together’s conservative faction.

On Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a pointy critic of the impeachment case despatched to the State Senate by the Texas Home, known as on the state auditor to find out how a lot public cash had been spent on the proceedings.

“To be clear, the objective is to find out absolutely the whole value to the state of making ready for and conducting this trial from the start via its conclusion,” Mr. Patrick mentioned in an announcement.

Additionally on Monday, Mr. Paxton’s spouse, State Senator Angela Paxton, broke her silence after days of watching with out remark as Home managers introduced proof towards her husband, together with an try and name as a witness the lady with whom her husband was having an extramarital relationship. Ms. Paxton attended the hearings, however was not allowed to deliberate or vote.

This was a monumental second in Texas historical past, for me as a senator, and naturally personally as nicely,” she mentioned in an announcement. “Had I been allowed to vote, I might have solid my vote with those that acquitted on every article.”

Within the securities fraud case pending in Harris County, Mr. Paxton faces fees that he solicited purchasers and traders for 2 firms whereas he was a member of the Texas Home. Prosecutors mentioned he misled traders in a know-how firm, Servergy Inc., by soliciting greater than $600,000 in investments in 2011 however misrepresenting himself as an investor within the firm and failing to reveal that he was making a fee on the investments.

Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice College who has adopted the circumstances carefully, mentioned that folks accused of comparable fees are sometimes penalized with fines and virtually by no means find yourself going to trial. “I believe it’s affordable to make the case that if it hadn’t been the lawyer normal, these fees would have by no means been filed,” Mr. Jones mentioned.

Pretrial disagreements have led to years of delays.

Mr. Paxton’s subsequent actual check will probably be on the polls, when he makes a case for re-election in 2026.

He has remained fashionable together with his base, even through the impeachment proceedings. Based on a current ballot by the Texas Politics Venture on the College of Texas at Austin, solely 24 p.c of Republican respondents agreed that there was sufficient proof that he engaged in wrongdoing to justify his elimination. A bigger proportion mentioned that they both disagreed, had no opinion or didn’t know.

J. David Goodman contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed analysis.

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