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After Admitting Crimes, Paxton Should Exit AG Race

Greg Abbott surrendering leadership on controversy to Joe Straus
Republican attorney general nominee Ken Paxton has admitted he violated Texas securities regulations and been forced to pay a fine to the Texas State Securities Board. But that is not the end of Paxton’s legal problems. Ken Paxton’s actions are more than simply violations of the state securities rules—they are felonies under the Texas criminal code (Tex. Civ. Stat. Art. 581-29).

It is only a matter of time before Ken Paxton is prosecuted, convicted of felony securities fraud and facing a sentence of up to 10 years in prison (Tex. Penal Code Sec. 12.34).

More importantly, under Texas law, a convicted felon is ineligible to serve as attorney general (Tex. Elec. Code Sec. 141.001 (a)(4)).

Ken Paxton should do the honorable thing—immediately withdraw from the AG race, admit his felony violations and accept his punishment. But don’t count on that happening.

Ken Paxton has dug in and appears ready to take his party down with him.

Paxton’s Republican Primary opponent, Dan Branch, spent weeks trying to get GOP primary voters—and the press—to focus on Paxton’s corrupt actions. It didn’t work. Paxton beat Branch easily on the strength of overwhelming Tea Party support.

Here are just a few quotes from Branch’s campaign warning about Ken Paxton:

  • “How can he be our state’s top law enforcement officer when he has a record of repeatedly violating our laws?” Dan Branch, TribTalk, 5/25/14
     
  • “If Ken Paxton is on the 2014 Republican ticket, his admitted lawbreaking will be a blight on the party.” Branch spokesman, Enrique Marquez, Texas Tribune, 5/21/14
     
  • “I’ve got an opponent who, with the securities law violations and ethics violations, is not only not qualified, but he’s disqualified himself.” Dan Branch, Dallas Morning News, 5/11/14
     
  • “Texans deserve an Attorney General who will protect them, not prey upon them.” Dan Branch Facebook page, 4/21/14

Abbott’s Silence on Paxton Signals Weakness

As the GOP nominee for governor, Greg Abbott is the leader of his party. Abbott could either call on Paxton to resign his candidacy and urge prosecutors to move quickly against him—or somehow explain why Texas voters should elect an admitted criminal who is ineligible to serve as Texas AG. 

Instead, Abbott has done neither. He has shrunk from the moment, refusing to even comment.

Abbott’s cowardice—and his reliance on the leadership of others—was most obvious last week when information surfaced that Texas House Speaker Joe Straus may be working with the Travis County DA to prosecute Paxton in time for his removal from the ballot. Sources inside the State Capitol have told the Lone Star Project that Straus representatives—and perhaps Straus himself—have met with Travis County prosecutors and urged quick action against Paxton.

The Lone Star Project is currently seeking documents through state open records laws that confirm Straus’ actions.

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