He's already facing three felony charges, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could possibly be tacking on some more after the Kaufman County district attorney announced that the embattled chief prosecutor is under investigation over there, too.
On Thursday, Kaufman County DA Erleigh Wiley confirmed to multiple outlets that her office is investigating Paxton for possible bribery related to a generous gift in his legal defense, which he established in 2015 when he was hit with two counts of felony securities fraud charges and another for allegedly failing to register as an investment adviser while acting as one.
Back in 2015, the president of Preferred Imaging LLC, James Webb, donated a whopping $100,000 to Paxton's legal fund, the largest gift of all of them. But the problem, as the Dallas Morning News reported, was that Preferred Imaging was under investigation for Medicaid and Medicare fraud — by both federal authorities and Paxton's own Civil Medicaid Fraud Division. Under state law, public officials are barred from accepting money from people they are investigating. (In July 2016, Preferred Imaging agreed to pay a $3.5 million settlement without having to admit guilt, ending the multi-year probe.)
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Wiley told the Morning News that her office is examining all the evidence and is close to deciding whether to bring the case to a grand jury, which would decide whether to indict.
A campaign spokesman for Paxton, Matt Welch, did not return a request for comment, but he has maintained in the past that Paxton was not directly involved in the investigation into Webb's company. (Language in Texas bribery laws involving gifts to public servants dictates that it's illegal to give a public official a gift if the giver is "subject to the [public official's] jurisdiction.")
Paxton is currently awaiting a trial date here in Harris County over the securities fraud charges (Kaufman County is just east of Dallas). The alleged misdoings took place before Paxton was the attorney general, but when he was a House rep. Paxton is accused of misleading investors to buy interests in a company called Severgy Inc., without disclosing that he would make a commission on their investments.
The trial was originally scheduled for early December, but the special prosecutors assigned to the case — Brian Wice, Kent Schaffer and Nicole DeBorde — asked State District Judge Robert Johnson to reschedule it. They have yet to get paid for their work investigating and prosecuting the AG, because of objections that Paxton political operatives raised in Collin County, where Jeffrey Blackard sued to block payments to the prosecutors, saying taxpayer money should not be used to fund a "witch hunt" against Paxton. That suit remains in a state appeals court, and the special prosecutors want the matter resolved before trial. Johnson allowed the delay, but it is unclear when the trial will be rescheduled or if it will happen before the primary election in March, when Paxton will be on the ballot.