A recent disclosure shows that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accepted more than $329,000 from donors and “family friends” toward his legal bills as he defends himself against securities fraud charges.
As the Tribune’s Jim Malewitz writes, filings to the Texas Ethics Commission show that Paxton received “gifts from more than two dozen people or couples labeled ‘family friends’” toward his legal defense, including a $100,000 gift from James Webb, who has also been a major Paxton campaign donor.
Paxton has denied charges that he misled investors in a technology company, and as Malewitz writes, “Paxton’s defense team contains some of the state’s top legal talent, and his tab is expected to reach millions of dollars in cases that could take years to resolve. The question of who was paying had swirled for months.”
Malewitz notes that, under state bribery laws, elected officials are not allowed to receive “gifts from people or entities subject to their authority, and as attorney general, Paxton’s could extend broadly.” Paxton, in his filing, sought an exception allowing “gifts from family members and those ‘independent’ of an officeholder’s ‘official status.’”
A spokesman for Paxton defended the gifts as legal, but the Austin American-Statesman reports that the disclosure drew criticism from the Texas Democratic Party. Manny Garcia, state deputy executive director for the Democrats, told the Statesman that Paxton was “exploiting an ethics loophole.”