Editorials

Latest Paxton news could help or hurt legal woes

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, right, visits with his attorney during his arraignment on securities fraud charges on Aug. 27.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, right, visits with his attorney during his arraignment on securities fraud charges on Aug. 27. Star-Telegram

When he was indicted in early August on first-degree and third-degree felony securities fraud charges, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton emailed supporters that he was “looking forward to the opportunity to tell my story … in a court of law.”

He should be getting more anxious to do that every day. As the state’s top legal representative, he can only expect continued attention to any bit of news about the case until a court of law clears him.

The news last week was curiously conflicting. It could help Paxton clear his name on the securities fraud allegations only to imply that he used his public office for private gain.

A story published Thursday in the Austin American-Statesman said a Paxton ally paid him $100,000 in a tech company’s stock to provide information about opportunities to sell computer servers to the government.

Paxton was a member of the Texas House at the time.

He was elected attorney general in November and took that office in January.

State law prohibits legislators from receiving compensation that compromises their “independence of judgment” in performing official duties, the Statesman article said.

The article was based on a court document filed Wednesday by special prosecutors in the securities fraud case.

The document was labeled as information required to be disclosed to accused people if it could help in their defense.

The filing said William Mapp, CEO of Servergy Inc., testified to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in April 2014 that he paid Paxton as an adviser and for referring investors to the company.

Paxton’s fraud charges relate to sales of investments in Servergy.

But in July 2015, shortly before the indictments were handed down, Mapp told two Texas Rangers that Paxton was only paid for information about selling Servergy equipment to the government.

None of that is comforting to the people of Texas whom Paxton is elected to serve. He should be pushing for a speedy trial.

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