Attorney General Ken Paxton has spent the last six years and two elections under indictment for securities fraud, not to mention a separate federal investigation for misuse of office. All told, Paxton’s legal troubles have cost Texas taxpayers $6 million.
Here’s how the math works out.
*Last week, Paxton was ordered to pay $3.3 million in a settlement with whistleblowers after he accused them of misdeeds. This only ends the lawsuit filed by four former office workers in the AG’s office, not the ongoing federal investigation.
*Meanwhile, Paxton hired three high-priced private firms to defend him during the lawsuit and his previous securities fraud case. The cost for that was handled by the taxpayers to the tune of $507,000, with one law firm charging $504/hour.
*In addition, Paxton spent $43,000 on a frivolous lawsuit meant to try and overturn the 2020 presidential election. The move was seen by some as an attempt to win a pardon from former President Donald Trump, though Trump ultimately did not issue one to Paxton.
*Speaking of elections, Paxton’s office spent $2.2 million chasing election fraud in 2021. Ultimately, he only closed three cases of isolated election misconduct, some of which was likely unintentional. Undeterred, his office continued the quest into 2022, during which they focused on a social worker who registered some disabled Texans to vote improperly. It’s part of a long history of Texas Republicans focusing anti-voting measures on people in assisted living situations.
This brings Paxton’s total cost to at least $6,050,000 of taxpayer money spent either on his own legal troubles or pursuing legal dead-ends to shore up his conservative base before the 2022 midterms.
However, there is one more area to consider when adding up Paxton’s cost to Texas taxpayers, and that’s his involvement in Operation Lone Star. Governor’s Greg Abbott’s deployment of the Texas National Guard to the southern border as a crackdown on immigration has been one of the most expensive boondoggles in state history even as it helped Abbott handily win re-election thanks to fear-mongering surrounding the immigration issue.
As attorney general, Paxton is obviously not the architect of the operation. That said, he has vehemently defended it even as judges strike down the operation as unconstitutional. Lone Star has been rife with accusations of entrapment and human rights violations as well as leading to the suicides of several guards thanks to poor conditions. The total price tag for Lone Star is over $4 billion so far, with Abbott continuously shuffling money around from social programs to pay for it.
Laying the entire cost at Paxton’s feet would be unfair, but his vehemence is defending Lone Star does prolong the money leak to the state coffers. Far from being fiscally conservative, Paxton has proved to be startlingly expensive for Texas, and that’s before his actual trial for securities fraud has even started.