Until recently it was only Texans who suffered through the constant drip of scandalous headlines made by Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton’s failed frivolous lawsuit against American democracy has drawn the attention of the nation to his more recent illicit behavior: Under investigation by the FBI for bribery, abuse of his office and other crimes – all the while under felony indictment for securities fraud.
Now that the rest of the country is catching up to Paxton’s proclivity for wrongdoing, we should all be reminded that his transgressions began long before he went pardon hunting.
Paxton uses public office as a platform for business start-ups
Before he became Texas’ chief law enforcement officer, Paxton was an attorney with modest income and no real business interests. After he was elected state representative in 2003, Paxton’s newfound political network led to a drastic increase in his entrepreneurial endeavors. Records show he started nearly thirty businesses in the nine years after taking office.
- In 2006, one of Paxton’s companies, Watchguard Video, won a contract worth at least $10 million to supply the Department of Public Safety with digital video cameras for patrol cars. Competing companies complained they failed to win the contract because the bidding process was set up to ensure that Watchguard would win.
- In 2004, one of Paxton’s real estate ventures, Eldorado-Collin, purchased 35 acres of undeveloped land in McKinney, Texas for $700,000 and sold less than half the property for more than $1 million eighteen months later. The land was used to become the Collin Central Appraisal District and required zoning changes before it was approved for government use. A Grand Jury investigated whether Paxton improperly played a role in the deal, and reportedly took no action only because the statute of limitations on the offense had run.
- Sometimes Paxton’s speculation went the wrong way showing that Paxton’s instinct for larceny is better than his business acumen. In 2008, he and three other Texas State House members filed a lawsuit claiming they had been scammed out of $2.5 million dollars by an investor who claimed to have been part of an expedition that discovered Noah’s Ark.
Broke his pledge to pull-back on business schemes as AG
During his first campaign for Attorney General in 2014, Paxton pledged he would “wind down” his involvement in his outside business dealings. He did not. After entering office, personal financial disclosure forms show he became involved in three new businesses that same year. Each venture included donors to his campaign.
Abbott and other Texas GOP leaders enable Paxton’s corruption
True to form, the Texas GOP has remained virtually silent on renouncing Paxton’s corrupt and felonious behavior at any stage of his political career.
As the legal, ethical and moral problems for him mount, and as the general public calls for him to step down, one thing Ken Paxton does not have to worry about is Governor Greg Abbott or other Texas GOP officials standing in his way or stopping his illegal actions.