Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is now facing a grand jury investigation related to a Collin County, Texas, land deal back in the mid-2000s.
New special prosecutors have been appointed to investigate.
This investigation is unrelated to the securities law violations that Paxton is presently under indictment for, issues previously reported by Breitbart Texas. The securities fraud case has been placed on hold by the criminal trial judge while issues related to the propriety of the indictments are on appeal.
Two special prosecutors are investigating Paxton’s part in a Collin County land transaction that led to the development of the headquarters for the county’s appraisal district, as reported by the Dallas Morning News.
Ty Clevenger, a lawyer who used to practice in Collin County but now lives in New York, fought to get officials to investigate Paxton. As reported by Breitbart Texas, his tactics in contacting a prior Collin County grand jury by sending letters to their homes and work places, and visiting them in person to ask them to investigate Paxton, have been questioned.
Two lawyers from Fort Worth, Miles Brissettee and Bob Gill, are serving as special prosecutors over the land deal investigation. They were appointed by the same state district judge, Judge George Gallagher, who is presiding over the securities case.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, Houston criminal defense lawyers, Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer, are serving as special prosecutors in the securities fraud case against Paxton.
The investigation into the land deal in Collin County involves a 2004 purchase of 35 acres of undeveloped land, as reported by the Dallas Morning News. The $700,000 purchase was by a group of investors which included Greg Willis who now serves as the district attorney for Collin County. Howard Hamilton, a reported business partner of Paxton’s, was also allegedly involved. The land was later sold for $1 million eighteen months later to a Dallas company called Cornerstone. The site became the Collin Central Appraisal District’s headquarters.
“We have cooperated fully with these Fort Worth attorneys and are confident that they will find no wrongdoing on the part of General Paxton or anyone involved in the ultimate sale of the property to the Collin County appraisal district,” one of his attorneys, Bill Mateja, was reported to say.
Although Paxton’s attorneys have apparently not mentioned the issue, and it is not known what the grand jury is investigating, there could be a statute of limitations issue with regard to any land deal from 2004, 2005, or 2006.
Breitbart Texas has reported about the political underpinnings that are, and could be, at work in the Paxton indictments.
A left-of-center “watchdog” group associated with requests for investigations and indictments against then-Governor Rick Perry, and former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom Delay, asked the Travis County district attorney’s office to investigate Paxton. Paxton was at that time the Republican nominee for attorney general of Texas. 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.
One of the complainants in the securities fraud charges against the Texas Attorney General is Texas State Representative Bryon Cook. Cook is a chief lieutenant for Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. Paxton ran against Straus for speaker in 2011.
Speaker Straus, Rep. Cook, and former Texas State Representative Dan Branch are from the “establishment” wing of the Republican Party. Paxton is from the “anti-establishment” and Tea Party wing. Paxton and Branch were both candidates in the primary runoff for attorney general in 2014 and it is Dan Branch that first brought up the issue of a state securities law violation by Paxton. He did so during the primary race.
One of Paxton’s lawyers in the securities fraud case, Philip H. Hilder from Houston told Breitbart Texas, “The trial Court has stayed further proceedings until all of our writs to dismiss the indictments are considered by the Court of Appeals. Litigation issues not involved with the appellate issues may still be considered by the trial court. Our appellate pleadings are solid and meritorious. We remain optimistic that we will prevail in the higher court.”
The attorneys fees for special prosecutors in the securities fraud case have become political and taxpayer issues. Collin County Commissioners budgeted $100,000 for special prosecutors in this case but legal fees in this highly contentious and lawyered-up case have already exceeded that amount. A Mckinney, Texas, resident has filed suit to contest some of these fees, as reported by the Dallas CBS affiliate.
Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as an associate judge and prosecutor. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2