It’s been six years since Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted on three felony charges related to securities fraud violations ,and yet no trial on those charges has commenced. In the meantime, there’s an FBI investigation into Paxton’s interactions with a key donor.
And then there’s next year’s reelection. It’s a lot to keep track of, but one person who has been doing just that is Lauren McGaughy, an investigative reporter in The Dallas Morning News’ Austin bureau. She talked to Texas Standard about what’s next for the state’s attorney general.
The initial criminal case dates back to 2015, she explains. Paxton is accused of duping people in a McKinney, Texas,-based investment scheme. He was indicted and released on bond, but thanks to a range of delays, the case has yet to face trial. The case has been transferred from Collin County to Harris County and then back to Collin, after Hurricane Harvey forced courts to close at the time.
“At this point, we are still in a fight over where any of the potential trials should take place,” McGaughy said.
Then there’s the FBI investigation involving Paxton’s relationship with campaign donor Nate Paul, a developer from Austin. Little has been released, publicly, following The Associated Press’ first report late last year that a federal probe was in the works.
“We don’t know a ton about how they met or why they seem to be entwined with each other,” McGaughy said.
But the questions about their interactions arose from accusations made by senior staff who have now left the agency, who claim Paxton was bribed and was swapping political favors with Paul.
“Lots of moving parts, but we don’t have any answers yet, and there are no charges arising from that investigation,” McGaughy said. “So right now, it’s just at the investigatory stage.”
Paxton has denied all of the accusations.
“He denies the securities fraud allegations,” McGaughy said. “And he denies that anything untoward happened regarding his relationship with Nate Paul.”
Now, for the first time, Paxton faces Republican challengers. They are Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.
McGaughy says some political experts believe that Paxton’s failure to put these legal issues behind him has resulted in new challengers.