Despite three criminal indictments and a looming fraud trial, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton raised $1.8 million in the second half of 2016, his largest six-month haul in a non-election year since he entered politics.
After a brief downturn just after he was indicted in July 2015, Paxton’s fundraising numbers have spiked in the last year. The attorney general has increased his attacks against the federal government and his involvement in prominent conservative issues such as opposing transgender rights and fighting environmental regulations.
According to Paxton spokesman Matt Welch, the McKinney Republican now has more than $4.6 million cash-on-hand, his biggest war chest to date. The only time he came nearly as close is when, as a state senator, he had $2.6 million in the bank during his run for attorney general in 2014.
While not specifically mentioning the legal troubles, Welch added that Paxton’s near-record fundraising period shows he “will once again defy the expectations of his political opponents.”
A Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton on three criminal fraud charges in summer 2015, alleging he duped friends and colleagues into buying stock in a McKinney tech company that misrepresented its product while paying Paxton to find investors. He was also indicted on a charge that he failed to register as an investment adviser representative, an allegation for which he was fined $1,000 in an earlier administrative reprimand by the Texas State Securities Board.
Paxton has not formally announced his intention to run for re-election, but Welch said the attorney general’s fundraising success was “a clear signal of his future plans.”
Paxton’s criminal trial is on track to kick off in the spring. He also faces separate civil fraud charges lodged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that are based on the same allegations.
Understanding the charges against Paxton
Texas vs. Paxton (state criminal case)
- Current status: Attorney General Ken Paxton is likely headed to court, but his attorneys are asking the Court of Criminal Appeals one final time to reconsider throwing out his indictments.
- Charges: Two first-degree felonies for securities fraud; one for failing to register with the state as an investment adviser representative.
- Allegations: Persuaded others to invest in Servergy, Inc. without disclosing that he received a commission for doing so; received a commission from people he steered to his investment adviser without registering with the state as the adviser’s “representative.”
- Paxton is the sole defendant. The state is represented by special prosecutors Brian Wice, Kent Schaffer and Nicole DeBorde.
- Possible sentences: Five to 99 years plus a fine of not more than $10,000 for each first-degree felony charge; two to 10 years plus a fine of not more than $10,000 for the third-degree felony charge.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission vs. William E. Mapp III, Warren K. Paxton Jr. (federal civil case)
- Current status: Federal judge conditionally threw out the charges on Oct. 7, 2016. The SEC had 14 days to revive the case, which it did.
- Charges: Civil securities fraud.
- Allegations: Same as in state criminal case.
- Paxton and ex-Servegy CEO William E. Mapp III are both defendants. Caleb White, accused of similar allegations as Paxton, and Servergy itself were also defendants, but both settled with the SEC by repaying a combined $260,000 in penalties.
- Possible consequences: The return of any “ill-gotten gains or unjust enrichment.”
Source: The Dallas Morning News