Big Game Hunting, Lawfare Edition: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton


On Monday, two felony charges will be unsealed against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and the liberal media will feast on his humiliation and booking in another episode of Big Game Hunting: Lawfare Edition.

After the indictments are unsealed, Paxton can surrender to be photographed, fingerprinted and booked at any of the state’s 254 county jails.

Kent Schaffer, one of the special prosecutors, has previously told News 8 they planned to present a third-degree charge of failing to register with the state securities board, as the law requires. They also said they planned to present a first-degree felony charge against Paxton, accusing him of securities fraud.

Schaffer told The New York Times that Paxton has been indicted on two counts of first-degree felony securities fraud and one count of third-degree felony failure to register over his failure to register with the state securities board.

The ultimate path this investigation took had lots of help.  When Paxton was serving as a state legislator, he invested in a McKinney-based startup Servegy, which is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Last year, Paxton admitted he failed to register with Texas securities regulators when he solicited investments for a business associate and friend.

Paxton accepted a $1,000 fine from the Texas State Securities board last year. At the time, the state board declined to pursue criminal charges. But the matter was revived after a complaint by the left-leaning watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, and a judge ultimately appointed the two special prosecutors.

After Collin County (where McKinney is the county seat) District Attorney Greg Willis stood aside because of his business connections with Paxton, Houston defense attorneys Kent Schaffer and Brian Wice were appointed by Collin County District Court Judge Scott Becker to prosecute the case.

While neither Schaffer nor Wice have worked as prosecutors, both have extensive criminal defense backgrounds. Wice recently worked on the defense team of NFL Star Adrian Peterson with attorney Rusty Hardin and is the legal analyst for KPRC-TV in Houston. Peterson pleaded no contest to a child abuse charge for disciplining his son with a wooden switch. He was sentenced to probation.

All of this was shepherded by the Big Game Hunters at Texans for Public Justice.  You might remember them for their role in the attempt to bag Rick Perry last year, with a similar ham sandwich indictment.

TPJ describes itself as a “a nonpartisan group that tracks the influence of money and corporate power in Texas politics.” Since 1997, McDonald and his tiny staff has made a name for itself digging through public records, while drawing fire from critics who accuse TPJ of doing the dirty work of Democrats while not being transparent about its own financial backing.

“Texans for Public Justice has always been a political attack machine masquerading as a public interest group,” said Sherry Sylvester, communications director of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a longtime TPJ critic. “This latest outlandish political attack on Gov. Perry should be dismissed as more of the same from this duplicitous front group.”

In short, TPJ is the Lawfare arm of the Texas Democratic Party.

Paxton and Perry aren’t their first hunt, either.  TPJ’s first Big Game hunting expedition brought down Tom DeLay–their funding came into question but all was forgiven after a show audit by the IRS.

When Texans for Public Justice challenged U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay over questionable campaign finances, the blowback was swift and potent. The Internal Revenue Service audited the group’s books after a DeLay ally, [mc_name name=’Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’J000174′ ] of Plano, told the IRS he suspected tax violations. Johnson was a member of the committee responsible for oversight of the IRS.

Auditors descended on the small Texans for Public Justice office in Austin and combed through its books. They found nothing, according to a letter the IRS sent the group.

It’s nice when the Feds keep your powder dry for you.  They also challenged then-Attorney General [mc_name name=’Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001056′ ]’s fundraising in 2000, raising ethical questions about his fundraising practices.  Notice what all these politicians have in common (one guess): the “R” after their names.

And how does Monday’s impending indictment tie back to TPJ?  The original story from the Texas Tribune in April (preserved by KERA News) notes this:

Willis’ motion notes the request is somewhat unusual because a criminal case does not exist from which Willis can ask to be removed. Instead, Willis said he is seeking recusal in response to Travis County’s referral of the case to Collin County, as well as a complaint by a “political group” thought to be the liberal Austin-based watchdog group Texans for Public Justice.

“Normally any recusal considerations are prompted after a law enforcement agency’s submission of an investigated case to our office. This has not happened,” Willis wrote. “Nevertheless, now that an investigative agency has been tasked to investigate this matter, and to avoid any potential appearance of impropriety arising from his business and personal relationship with Ken Paxton, the undersigned Criminal District Attorney of Collin County respectfully requests this Honorable Court to appoint a Criminal District Attorney Pro Tem of Collin County in this matter.”

Now…the setup:  attorneys Wice and Shaffer have experience dealing with TPJ and defending politicians.

Wice is most known as a member of the team that won an appeal of the 2010 conviction of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. A Travis County jury convicted the former lawmaker of conspiring to launder $190,000 in campaign donations to seven Texas legislative candidates. But the 3rd Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and that decision was upheld by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shaffer has represented high-profile politicians and business leaders, including R. Allen Stanford and former U.S. Rep. Craig Washington, and has handled legal affairs for athletes and celebrities including Farrah Fawcett.

Let’s note that Democrat ex-Congressman Washington’s Texas attorney’s license was suspended in January.  The two men prosecuting Paxton certainly know how to bag their quarry.

Seems like TPJ should set up an office in Zimbabwe, because they’ve got an excellent track record arranging safaris for itinerant attorneys who would love a chance to hunt Big Republican Game.

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