A federal district judge nominated by President Obama has dismissed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s entire civil securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The judge dismissed the case with prejudice.
Matthew Martens, a partner from WilmerHale who is Paxton’s lead attorney in the SEC civil case, applauded the judge’s decision saying, “We have maintained from day one that the SEC’s case against Ken Paxton was meritless. A federal court has agreed – twice. Two wins are twice as sweet.”
U.S. district Judge Amos L. Mazzant issued his 37-page ruling on Thursday. From the start, the judge questioned whether the prosecution is trying to fit a “square peg in a round hole.”
“Are we stretching the securities law to cover something it wasn’t meant to?” Judge Mazzant asked prosecutors after hearing their arguments fighting dismissal of the case against Paxton.
Judge Mazzant dismissed the case in October but allowed the federal government “leave to amend its allegations against Paxton to the extent that it has additional facts that might support a claim under the statutes alleged in the Complaint,” as reported by Breitbart Texas.
Lawyers for the SEC later amended their complaint and alleged that Paxton owed a fiduciary duty to an “investment group” comprised of four investors and that they had certain “established purpose, policies, and practices.” In mid-January, Paxton’s lawyers filed a motion asking the judge to stop the SEC’s continued harassment and fishing expedition where there is no evidence to support their case.
Breitbart Texas has been following the case since Obama administration lawyers filed the lawsuit against the Texas attorney general. The SEC filed the lawsuit against AG Paxton just one week to the day before the AG was to represent Texas and lead 26 states at the U.S. Supreme Court in the executive amnesty case, the United States v. Texas. The AG told Breitbart Texas at the time, “That’s just creative timing by the Obama administration to file a lawsuit one week before I lead a 26 state coalition against his illegal immigration order.” As reported by Breitbart News, the case was historic because it was only the second time in U.S. history where America’s highest court would decide a challenge (led by Texas) brought by a majority of states against the federal government. It was also historic in that it involved the scope of presidential power under the Constitution.
Paxton’s lawyer Matthew Martens, who previously served as the chief litigation counsel in the enforcement division at the SEC, filed a motion to dismiss the SEC civil lawsuit against the AG in early June. As reported by Breitbart Texas, “In short, the SEC’s claims against Mr. Paxton are a dramatic overreach and lack any basis in law.”
The 29-page pleading filed by Paxton’s defense urged that the SEC did not claim that Paxton ever lied or made a misrepresentation, and no one has alleged they lost money in any of the transactions involving Paxton. The motion also stated that the SEC’s argument that Paxton failed to disclose that he could receive a commission for touting securities, and that he had not investigated the company, runs counter to decades of case law precedent that has never required such discussions or actions.
In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas on Thursday, Attorney General Paxton said, “I have maintained all along this whole saga is a political witch hunt. Today’s ruling to dismiss the charges with prejudice confirms that these charges were baseless when the SEC initially brought them and they were without merit when the SEC re-filed them. Someone needs to hold the SEC accountable for this travesty.”
Bill Mateja, a shareholder from Polsinelli who is on both Paxton’s SEC and state criminal defense teams said, “We are now focused on Ken Paxton’s full exoneration in the state matter, where the special prosecutor’s burden is even higher and the fraud allegations in the SEC case mirror those in the state case.”
As reported by Breitbart Texas, Paxton pleaded not guilty to the criminal indictments that many have called a political witch-hunt because of the players involved. Rep. Bryon Cook (R-Corsicana) and businessman Joel Hochberg are complainants in the Collin County indictments. Cook continues to serve as chairman of the powerful State Affairs Committee and is on the equally powerful Calendars Committee. Cook is said by opponents to be a close lieutenant to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. Hochberg is a close business associate of Chairman Cook. Paxton ran against Straus as speaker before he was a state senator.
The indictments relate to actions and events in Collin County involving the same company and the same parties as are the basis of the SEC civil action. There are two first degree counts alleging securities fraud, and a third degree felony for failing to register as a securities adviser with the Texas State Securities Board. All of the alleged actions occurred prior to Paxton taking office in January of 2015. As reported by Breitbart Texas, issues relating to Paxton’s alleged failure to register as a securities adviser were raised by Dan Branch, Paxton’s opponent during the Republican primary for attorney general.