Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton turned himself in at the Collin County jail on Monday to face three felony charges, including fraud and acting as a securities broker without registering with the state. Paxton was photographed, fingerprinted, and released on $35,000 in "personal recognizance" bonds, which require no cash, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Paxton, a Tea Party favorite who was sworn in as the state's top law enforcement official seven months ago, is accused of convincing investors to buy stakes in a company called Servergy by portraying himself as an enthusiastic fellow investor while secretly making commissions on the transactions. One of the others Paxton allegedly lured in was, at the time, his colleague in the Texas House. From the Dallas Morning News:
Indictments signed last week and unsealed today say that in July 2011, Paxton “engaged in fraud” by selling more than $100,000 of common stock in Servergy Inc. to both State Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) and Joel Hochberg without disclosing that he would be compensated for their purchases, that he had already been paid with 100,000 shares of the company or that he had not invested in the company himself.
The indictment also contains a less serious charge of acting as a securities broker without registering with the state. Paxton had previously admitted to this while seeking the GOP nomination for the attorney general's race, and has said he considered the matter closed after having paid a $1,000 fine.
The Morning News reports that while many Texas Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach to Paxton's case, a spokesman for the state Republican party railed against the "outrageous events" he said had led to the indictment:
Since being overwhelmingly elected by the voters of Texas, General Paxton has helped lock up child predators, investigated the odious acts of Planned Parenthood, relentlessly pushed back against an overreaching federal government, and we expect him to fight these allegations with that same zeal. Ken Paxton, like all Americans, deserves to have his say in a court of law, rather than be judged in a court of public opinion that is presided over by liberal interest groups.
Paxton's smiling mugshot has reminded some in Texas of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who also appeared relaxed as he was booked for two felonies last August. Aside from their shared status as holders of statewide office and their affable demeanor at arrest, there's not much in common with the two cases: Perry has been accused of overstepping his authority as part of a political dispute, while the attorney general's alleged crimes appear to be purely financial.
Still, Paxton friend and state Rep. Matt Krause pointed to the recent dismissal of one of Perry's two charges as a sign that indictments should not always be accepted at face value. "I think it's all seen within the same universe of what's taking place," he said of Paxton's indictment, "and that's why people are quick to think there's a political motivation or agenda behind it."