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Paxton Investigation Enters Key Stage

Special prosecutors expected to present case against attorney general to grand jury soon

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Attorney General Ken Paxton, the top law enforcer in Texas, has become the focus of a criminal investigation into his own alleged wrongdoing, and two special prosecutors have said they could ask a Collin County grand jury to indict him in the next few weeks. (Published Friday, July 17, 2015)

    Attorney General Ken Paxton, the top law enforcer in Texas, has become the focus of a criminal investigation into his own alleged wrongdoing, and two special prosecutors have said they could ask a Collin County grand jury to indict him in the next few weeks.

    The investigation, being conducted by the Texas Rangers, started focusing on an alleged securities violation, according to the special prosecutors.

    They later asked a judge to authorize them to widen the probe into other areas but did not elaborate.

    Paxton has denied committing any crimes.

    The attorney general's legal woes and ethical questions started well before he took office in January.

    Laura Kayata runs the group "McKinney Watchdog" and has been following Paxton for years.

    "It's a pattern. It's a pattern of questionable decisions,” she said.

    SECURITIES VIOLATION

    While working as a lawyer in downtown McKinney, Paxton admits he referred several clients to a financial advisor, Fritz Mowery.

    But the state securities board found Paxton didn't disclose that Mowery paid him a cut.

    Mowery could not be reached and has not commented on the matter publicly.

    Paxton spoke to NBC DFW about the issue in April.

    "We did everything we could to resolve it as quickly as possible and that was resolved a year ago,” he said.

    The board reprimanded Paxton and he signed a document acknowledging that he wasn’t properly registered. He paid a $1,000 fine.

    "It just is what it is but that's a civil event,” said Paxton’s spokesman Anthony Holm. “People aren't felons when that occurs.”

    THE $1,000 PEN

    Two years ago, Paxton admits he took a $1,000 Mont Blanc pen that another lawyer had accidentally left behind at the security check-in at the Collin County Courthouse.

    Paxton quickly returned it after the sheriff's office reviewed a security video and contacted him.

    Paxton’s spokesman said it was a simple mixup.

    "My understanding is someone said, 'Sir, I think you left a pen here,’” Holm said. “As the video shows, he walked over. ‘Hmm, I left a pen.’ Now, turns out it was a $1,000 pen of somebody else's."

    Holm said Paxton had no idea of the pen’s value.

    LAND DEAL

    Public interest groups also question Paxton’s land deals and whether he used his influence for a key zoning change on property ultimately bought by the Collin County Appraisal Board.

    Records show Paxton was involved in a company that bought the land less than two years earlier and made a big profit. He says he was a small investor and denies doing anything wrong.

    POLICE CAMERAS

    And then, there are the police dashboard cameras, made by a Collin County company.

    "We started doing some research and found lo and behold, come to find out, Paxton is one of the investors in the company,” Kayata said.

    Texas ended up buying the cameras for troopers statewide.

    "He should have disclosed it and recused himself,” Kayata said.

    Paxton's spokesman said Paxton actually voted against the much larger spending bill the cameras were in and his failure not to disclose his investment was an oversight.

    "You can't make all this stuff up,” Kayata said.

    She said she is eagerly awaiting the grand jury’s decision.

    Paxton’s spokesman said the attorney general will not step down if he is indicted.

    "Of course he's going to fight this, 100 percent, as he should,” Holm said.

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