Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton survived an impeachment vote in the state Senate this weekend, but the matter is far from behind him: the US Department of Justice is still conducting an open investigation on many of the same allegations of corruption and abuse. Office.
And in October, Mr. Paxton’s lawyers will go to court with state prosecutors to set a trial date for his pending indictment on two counts of securities fraud, an eight-year-old case which senators did not directly address during their acquittal vote. SATURDAY.
His lawyer, Dan Cogdell, predicted the securities case would be resolved quickly.
“They should reject it, and if they don’t reject it, we’ll try to beat them there, just like we beat them here,” he said Saturday of the state’s charges. He was less inclined to make predictions about the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. “I don’t talk to the FBI – I try not to,” he said.
Mr. Paxton has faced numerous legal problems since he was sworn in as attorney general in 2015, replacing Greg Abbott, now the governor. He was re-elected twice, in part by aligning himself with the right-wing policies championed by former President Donald J. Trump. Voters delivered comfortable victories for Mr. Paxton even after his indictment and after several of his top aides said he abused his office by helping a wealthy donor, the subject of the recent attempt to oust him from office. functions.
But legal experts said that after the Senate acquittal, Mr. Paxton could face a more serious legal threat because of the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation. State prosecutors said in February that the department was investigating whistleblower allegations that Mr. Paxton provided unusual assistance from his office to benefit a political donor, Nate Paul, a real estate investor in ‘Austin, and that Mr. Paul allegedly paid for renovations to his house and employed a woman with whom he was having an affair.
The case was taken over by the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section in Washington, state prosecutors said, after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas was recused. The reason for the recusal was not explained and the ministry did not respond to requests for information.
Federal agents in Texas were accused by Mr. Paul of misconduct, and it was Mr. Paul’s successful attempt to have them investigated by Mr. Paxton that formed a large part of the whistleblowers’ allegations. The takeover by agents in Washington may have been carried out to avoid the emergence of conflict within the Texas office.
Federal investigators will likely rely on evidence and testimony made public during recent legislative hearings. More than a dozen witnesses described how Mr. Paxton repeatedly used his office to help Mr. Paul.
In June, federal prosecutors accused Mr. Paul of making false statements to financial institutions by exaggerating the value of his assets, telling mortgage companies and credit unions that he had more money than him. The case could prompt Mr. Paul to cooperate with the federal government in the investigation of Mr. Paxton, legal analysts said.
But time may be on Mr. Paxton’s side. Federal investigations often drag on for months or even years, and Mr. Paxton’s lawyers could count on the possibility that a new Republican administration will be less inclined to pursue the case.
Mr. Paxton and his supporters have long sought to portray the case against him as a plot by political opponents — the Biden administration, Texas liberals and moderate Republicans in the Texas House — to undermine the conservative faction of the party. .
On Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a vocal critic of the impeachment package sent to the state Senate by the Texas House, asked the state auditor to determine how much public money was spent on the proceedings.
“To be clear, the goal is to determine the absolute total cost to the State of preparing and conducting this trial from inception to conclusion,” Mr. Patrick said in a statement.
Also on Monday, Mr. Paxton’s wife, State Senator Angela Paxton, broke her silence after watching for days without comment as House managers presented evidence against her husband, including an attempt to call as a witness the woman with whom her husband had an extramarital affair. relationship. Ms. Paxton attended the hearings, but was not allowed to deliberate or vote.
“This was a monumental moment in Texas history, for me as a senator, and of course personally as well,” she said in a statement. “If I had been allowed to vote, I would have voted with those who paid every article.”
In the ongoing Harris County securities fraud case, Mr. Paxton faces charges for soliciting clients and investors for two companies while he was a member of the Texas House. Prosecutors said he misled investors in a technology company, Servergy Inc., by soliciting more than $600,000 in investments in 2011 but falsely representing himself as an investor in the company and by failing to disclose that he received a commission on the investments.
Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University who has followed these cases closely, said people accused of similar charges are often punished with fines and almost never end up in court. “I think it’s reasonable to argue that if it wasn’t for the attorney general, these charges would never have been filed,” Mr. Jones said.
Disagreements before the trial led to years of delays.
Mr. Paxton’s next real test will come in the election, when he makes his case for re-election in 2026.
He remained popular with his base, even during the impeachment proceedings. According to a recent poll by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, only 24 percent of Republican respondents agreed that there was enough evidence that he committed wrongdoing to warrant impeachment. A larger proportion said they disagreed, had no opinion, or didn’t know.
J. David Goodman reports contributed. Susan C. Beachy contributed to the research.