Breitbart readers have commented on the reported upcoming indictment of Attorney General Ken Paxton by charging that the investigation and any indictments of Paxton is a witch hunt by Democrats, Paxton’s prior AG opponent Dan Branch and his friends, and/or a “Blue RINO hunt.” Others do not seem so sure.
As reported by Breitbart Texas on Saturday, indictments against the sitting Texas Attorney General were allegedly handed down and the records sealed this past Tuesday.
Two special prosecutors appointed to look into whether Ken Paxton violated Texas securities laws or other laws announced in early July that they would present evidence to a Collin County, Texas, grand jury at the end of July or early August.
The acts alleged to have been committed took place prior to Paxton becoming attorney general.
Texas State House Representative Dan Branch raised the issue during the Republican primary race for Texas attorney general. Branch was Paxton’s opponent in the primary and the run-off.
Later, a left-of-center “watchdog” group associated with requests for investigations and indictments against then-Governor Rick Perry, and U.S. House Majority Leader Tom Delay, asked the Travis County district attorney’s office to investigate then-Republican Party AG nominee Paxton.
The executive director of Texans for Public Justice sent a letter to the Travis County DA asking for an investigation three months before the November 2014 elections. The Austin-based nonprofit is funded by the Rockefeller Family Fund and a foundation whose top political recipient was reported to be the Ready for Hillary PAC.
Texas has been a hotbed of criminal indictments, especially out of Travis County, Texas, the seat of the state’s Capitol.
The Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office has been the source of criticism by Republicans who say the unit has been used to further partisan motivated criminal indictments. Indictments of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and Governor Rick Perry, have been the source of this criticism.
Governor Perry was indicted for abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant by the Travis County District Attorney in 2014. Perry has called his indictments an outrageous abuse of power. While Governor, Perry threatened to veto, and did veto, funding for the Public Integrity Unit. Perry had called for Travis County District Attorney’s Lehmberg’s resignation after she was arrested and pled guilty to drunken driving. Lehmberg oversees the offices’ Public Integrity Unit. Perry’s case is pending.
Then House Majority Leader DeLay was indicted when Ronnie Earle was the Travis County District Attorney. Earle brought indictments against DeLay and Hutchison. DeLay has called the indictments in Travis County “The Criminalization of Politics.” He was indicted and found guilty by a Travis County jury but was later exonerated by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals after years of litigation and appeals.
Weary of previous politically-motivated indictments involving former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, former House Majority Leader Tom Delay and former Governor Rick Perry, Breitbart readers responded to the report that the grand jury indictments will be unsealed on Monday.
The comment section to the article began with a statement from Woodchipping Flamethrower. He wrote, “More Democrat lawfare.”
Snitch_n_Time replied, “RINO law fare. Paxton’s rival Dan Branch is behind this. Even in ‘red’ Texas, the RINOs and the Democrats make up the coalition government.”
Victor Cachat wrote, “Democrats in Texas see Republican witches everywhere. That would be a joke if they had no political power, but they have too much. I hope Texans wake up and run the lefties out of office in every county.”
Wally 76 wrote, “I have no idea whether Paxton is guilty or not, since I haven’t seen the indictment let alone the evidence. He should have the same presumption of innocence as any other defendant. What I object to is the absurd theory that it’s all a Democratic plot. Suggesting that a grand jury in solidly Republican Collin County is part of a political witch hunt is not credible. Let’s wait and see what happens.” He later writes, “If this happens watch for Paxton to claim it’s all politically motivated. This would be a huge embarrassment for Texas.”
Daniel Ryan wrote, “Does it have to be a ‘Democrat witch hunt?’ Is it not remotely possible that this guy just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar? Or does being a Republican somehow mean he is supposed to be immune to the kind of antics all politicians are known for?”
Skarlson replied to Ryan saying, “In theory you are correct. Given what has been observed by unscrupulous libtards however control on the side of witch hunt. Coercion through the ‘justice’ system is a favorite tactic of theirs.”
Snitch_n_Time wrote again, “This is a Friends of Dan Branch operation. Branch is the bluest RINO in the state. Even in Collin County, the Blue RINOs and Democrat coalition is powerful enough to get what they want. This is Tom Delay all over again.”
This reader continued, “Paxton is hated by the Blue RINO establishment in Texas. Peel this all the way back and you will find friends of Dan Branch busily at work. Branch brought this up during the primary, not the Democrats.”
Paxton ran against Texas House Speaker Joe Straus in 2011 for the Speaker’s race.
Wally76 wrote, “We’ll have to see what the indictment says, won’t we.”
In May of 2014, the Texas State Securities Board fined then-Texas Senator Paxton $1,000.
PrepSteader made a comment, “So … get a speeding ticket and step down? This was a minor infraction, and he paid the fine. The remainder is nothing but political persecution.”
The order issued from the Texas State Securities Board “reprimanded” Paxton for acting as an investment adviser representative for one company (Mowery Capital Management, LLC, MCM) when that company was registered as an adviser with the state securities board.
The board closed the matter without referring it to the Texas attorney general’s office for criminal prosecution, something within the power of the Board to do.
After the letter was sent to the Travis County DA, the Travis County and Dallas district attorney’s offices decided they did not have jurisdiction over the matter. Paxton lived and worked in Collin County at the time of any of the alleged acts in question.
When pressure was placed on the Collin County DA to prosecute, DA Greg Willis responded that it would be more appropriate for the Texas Rangers and other investigative authorities to investigate. Willis cited his friendship with Paxton when taking himself out of the investigation. Paxton has been a business partner and friend of the Collin County DA.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, Collin County Judge Scott Becker responded by appointing two special prosecutors from Houston to preside over an investigation. The crimes being investigated are first-degree felonies.
Kent A. Schaffer, one of the special prosecutors appointed to preside over the investigation, told Breitbart Texas at the time, “We have been investigating certain allegations for the last two months … The next stage is to present what we have found to a grand jury and it will be their duty to decide whether anything occurred which would warrant an indictment or a no-bill.”
The other special prosecutor, Brian Wice, released a statement, saying, “Our mandate as special prosecutors in this matter is to investigate any and all violations of the Texas Securities Act that may or may not have been committed by Mr. Paxton. He continued, “[W]e fully intend to follow the evidence the Rangers have brought us wherever it leads us. At the end of the day, it will be up to the grand jurors to determine whether or not probable cause exists to hand up indictments in this matter.”
Jon noted in one of the Breitbart Texas comments, “One of the two special prosecutors in the Paxton case, Brian Wice, was the lawyer who got Tom DeLay’s conviction in Austin reversed on appeal. So the Colin County officials have gone out of their way to try and make this investigation look as impartial as possible. As you note, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
Brian Wice did successfully represent former House Majority Leader Tom Delay on appeal, and Kent Schaffer has over 30 years of criminal law experience. Schaffer has represented noted, political, business, and entertainment figures in criminal and civil matters.
1172048 wrote, “[Paxton] is Tea Party, the mainstream Rs will gladly let him swing to get a good ol boy back in. Business as usual.”
Snitch_n_Time again charged, “That good old boy within the wings is Paxton’s Blue RINO rival Dan Branch. This is a Friends of Dan operation with a little help from the Dems with who Branch often plays kissy-face.”
The New York Times reported that Schaffer told the news organization on Saturday that Paxton has been indicted on three felony counts. One of those counts said Schaffer, includes investors who were Paxton’s friends, and Texas House Representative Byron Cook. Cook is one of the primary lieutenants of House Speaker Joe Straus.
We do not know if the Attorney General would step down if there is an indictment and conviction, and we do not know what any replacement process would be for his position, or who would vie for it.
One thing is sure though, most Texans want any legal process to be fair, and they want to hear any evidence.
Breitbart Texas will continue to closely follow legal developments.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate court judge. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2