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Paxton’s Legal Woes are Far From Over

On Thursday, Attorney General Ken Paxton attempted to put his legal troubles behind him by saying he would no longer contest the facts in his whistleblower case. Unfortunately for him, the trouble is just beginning.

On the surface, Paxton appears to be on a winning streak. He was acquitted on impeachment  charges by the Texas Senate in September, despite being charged by his members of his own party in the House. Then on Thursday, Paxton appeared to avoid a looming deposition in his whistleblower case by filing paperwork tat said he would no longer contest the facts of the case and accept any judgment. Paxton’s trial was in regards to potentially illegally firing staff members that accused Paxton over misuse of office to authorities.

Certainly Paxton was taking victory laps, pivoting to his favorite topic of supposed political targeting against himself.

“Today, my office acted to end this wasteful litigation by filing an amended answer that — consistent with the previous decision to settle this case — will enable the trial court to enter a final judgment without any further litigation,” Paxton said in a statement Thursday, adding that he “will not allow my office to be distracted by these disgruntled former employees and their self-serving sideshow.”

However, Paxton is still scheduled to be deposed. Travis County Judge Jan Soifer ordered Paxton on Friday to sit for deposition on Feb. 1. Thus far, Paxton has avoided every opportunity to give sworn testimony regarding his conduct concerning the whistleblowers or even during his own impeachment trial. For all his public protestations of innocence in multiple cases, the attorney general seems remarkably shy of pleading his case in a court of law.

Even if his filing does ultimately end the current trial, it’s possible he will be right back in this same situation under a federal judge. Paxton remains under federal investigation for his conduct in office, which involves allegedly heading off law enforcement from cases involving his friend and donor Nate Paul.

It’s possible Paxton is hoping that the re-election of former President Donald Trump will allow him to run out the clock on a federal investigation. The two men have been closely aligned, with Paxton filing lawsuits claiming that the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen. Trump is currently indicted for illegally interfering with that election.

Beyond the whistleblower case is his securities fraud trial slated to start in April. Just months into his first term at attorney general, Paxton was indicted for supposedly soliciting investors without disclosing he was being paid to inflate a company’s stick value, a felony. Despite the indictment, the case has been stalled for years over arguments about the special counsel’s pay and jurisdiction. In the meantime, Paxton was handily re-elected to office twice.

If convicted, Paxton could theoretically serve 99 years in prison, though such a sentence would be highly unlikely. Even if convicted, he could still serve as attorney general unless impeached again and this time removed. Pre-trial motions are scheduled to begin Feb. 16.

Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner is an award-winning freelance journalist, the author of The Rook Circle, and a member of The Black Math Experiment. He lives in Houston where he spends most of his time investigating corruption and strange happenings. Jef has written for Houston Press, Free Press Houston, and Houston Chronicle.


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