Texas AG Pooh-Poohs Possible Felony Charge

     McKINNEY, Texas (CN) – The special prosecutors who want to charge Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton with a felony punishable by life in prison are “inexperienced” and “politically motivated,” Paxton’s spokesman said Thursday.
     “This appears to be a politically motivated effort to ruin the career of a longtime public servant,” Paxton spokesman Anthony Holm said in a statement.
     “These attacks on Ken Paxton appear to have become a political hit job in the media, perhaps having the effect of inappropriately influencing the grand jury.”
     What’s more, Holm said, the prosecutors are from out of town.
     “Neither of the special prosecutors have significant prosecutorial experience,” Holm said. “It appears that they have prosecuted only one case between them. Not only do they appear inexperienced as prosecutors, they are from Houston. Meanwhile, thousands of experienced prosecutors and former prosecutors are in the Dallas area.”
     Paxton is from McKinney, a suburb north of Dallas.
     Special prosecutor Kent Schaffer said Wednesday that the Texas Rangers were investigating Paxton on admissions Paxton made to the Texas State Securities Board in 2014 when they found new evidence of fraud , in excess of $100,000.
     The State Securities Board fined Paxton $1,000 last year and reprimanded him. Paxton admitted that while he was in the Legislature he solicited clients for a friend’s investment firm – Mowrey Capital Management – a without being registered as an investment adviser.
     Schaffer said this week he will ask a Collin County grand jury to indict Paxton on first-degree felony charges of violating state securities law. The charge is punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison.
     “The Rangers went out to investigate one thing, and they came back with information on something else,” Schaffer told ABC-affiliate WFAA. “It’s turned into something different than when they started.”
     Texans for Public Justice, a government watchdog, demanded a criminal investigation after Paxton was fined last year.
     Travis County District Attorney Mary Lehmberg’s Public Integrity Unit, in Austin, referred the case to Dallas and Collin counties.
     Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk declined the case and Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis asked to be recused, so Schaffer and attorney Brian W. Wice, both of Houston, were appointed special prosecutors.
     “From the outset their intention appears to have been to try this case in the media, not the courtroom,” Holm said. “Texans deserve better. We deserve cases tried in courthouses, not the press.”
     Schaffer said he and Wice will ask a Collin County grand jury to charge Paxton with first-degree securities fraud within three weeks, and will call at least eight witnesses. He anticipates pursuing third-degree felony failure-to-register charges, as well.
     “We have a sufficient amount of evidence,” Schaffer told The Dallas Morning News. “Whether it leads to a criminal indictment or not is up to the grand jury.”

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