Ken Paxton, Texas’ attorney general, pleaded not guilty to securities fraud charges yesterday. During the hearing, he also asked the judge to bar cameras from ensuing hearings, and his attorney withdrew from the case.
Opinions on Texas’ top law enforcement officer, who will not step down from office, are split. Tea party activists who back Paxton claim he is the victim of a political conspiracy; democrats, on the other hand, accuse him of demanding special treatment.
Paxton has been charged with two counts of securities fraud stemming from accusations that in 2011, while Paxton was a state legislator, he misled investors in a tech startup which paid him for bringing in new shareholders. One of his fellow Republican legislators is among those he allegedly deceived.
Paxton’s lawyer, former federal judge Joe Kendall, surprisingly proclaimed during the hearing that he was withdrawing from the case as Paxton’s attorney. In the accompanying motion filed with the court, Kendall explained that recent differences had “impacted” his relationship with his client and made representing him “untenable.”
Paxton started to explain to the judge the situation with his lawyer while seated. Judge George Gallagher interrupted him, saying “You need to stand, please.”
Paxton hopes to have a new attorney by next week. The special prosecutors appointed to the case did not object. However, one did point out that Paxton has now had three attorneys in three months and that he may be trying to stall.
“This case has to be tried at some point,” said Kent Schaffer, one of the special prosecutors.
When Paxton was booked on the charges earlier this month, he was allowed for forego a longstanding jail rule that suspects wear a white towel around their shoulders in booking photos, which critics cry is special treatment.
“He continues to operate that Ken Paxton has rules for himself, but everyone else has to operate under a different set of rules,” Texas Democratic Party Director Manny Garcia said.
Governor Greg Abbott and other top Texas Republicans have not publicly backed Paxton.
If you or someone you know has lost money as a result of an investment or Ponzi scheme, please contact Richard Frankowski at 888-741-7503 to discuss your potential legal remedies or complete the contact form.