I woke up early to learn that the Waco Tribune had beat me to the punch on my intended topic for this blog. In fact, they quoted verbatim a few lines my best friend in Houston sent to me yesterday. However, I will add some thoughts at the end.
EDITORIAL: Many of us are complicit in scandal fast engulfing state attorney general
Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 12:01 am | Updated: 1:02 am, Tue Apr 12, 2016.
If Texas Republicans are to lay claim to values such as public integrity and good governance amid changing political demographics, they best deal with the ethical problems mounting around State Attorney General Ken Paxton. Of course, if Paxton truly cared about his political party, his state and the fleeting prestige of his office, he would resign and save taxpayers a bundle of money in legal costs and any further embarrassment.
Just Monday the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission added to Paxton’s swelling legal problems by charging civil securities fraud for his business sideline back in the Texas Legislature — encouraging people to buy stock in Servergy Inc., a North Texas tech company, without revealing he was being compensated by that company. He already faces criminal charges for the same business dealings, a violation of Texas law.
Among the people the McKinney Republican reportedly serenaded were friends, business associates, law firm clients and members of an investment group to which he belonged. Despite a legal and ethical duty to do so, Paxton “recklessly failed to inform the individuals he recruited [to invest] that he was being compensated to promote Servergy to investors,” the SEC alleges. According to the complaint, he raised $840,000 in investor funds for Servergy and received 100,000 shares of stock in return.
More evidence? The technology company that Paxton was reportedly talking up to friends and associates is accused of boosting stock sales with false claims about a “supposedly revolutionary computer server and big-name customers purportedly placing orders to buy it.” Servergy has since cut ties with its earlier CEO and agreed to pay a $200,000 penalty to settle these damning SEC charges.
Texas voters are quite complicit in all this. While some outrage is voiced over such snafus as the botched March 1 local election, the fact remains voters are too often foolish in casting ballots when they do get a chance to do it right. In 2014, many Republicans — including a plurality in McLennan County — bypassed two upstanding, qualified Republicans running for attorney general — Barry Smitherman and Dan Branch — and instead rallied around Paxton, who by then had already admitted to violating state securities laws, a third-degree felony. Amazing.
Some Republicans argue the charges against Paxton parallel the politically motivated legal troubles of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, including allegations that Perry abused his state executive powers. This newspaper knows better, which is why we repeatedly defended the Republican governor of those charges, eventually dismissed. Paxton has admitted to violating state securities laws. His holding of a high office of public trust as this state’s top law enforcement officer is a disgrace that indicates just how deeply many of us have failed as citizens.
The part I would like to add is an appeal to some key leaders who should have stepped up by now and ended this travesty of our political and legal system.
Governor Abbott. You could have ended this a long time ago and should have. Your silence has been screaming loudly as many of us have wondered why you would not encourage AG Paxton to stop embarrassing Texas. Your word would have carried a lot of weight and still will if you use your voice. You have done us no favors. Lead! You are as guilty as Ken Paxton for letting this drag out so long. Advise Ken Paxton to resign!
Former Governor Perry. Here is a case where your influence and your position is perfectly suited to tell the emperor he has no clothes. You should have handled this already as a friend to Gov. Abbott and the most central person who should put Texas first and tell your crony it’s over. Advise Ken Paxton to resign!
Senator Cruz. Where is your leadership? Oh wait, I just remembered you had Ken Paxton hire a truckload of your Texas staff irrespective of qualifications or process. You are worthless. However, you have many ways of getting the message to the AG. And this is more important than your cronyism. Advise Ken Paxton to resign!
Collin County/McKinney Leadership. Many, many of you had your name listed as supporters on AG Paxton’s political Web splash page when he was running for office. I would publish all of the names now, but the AG has managed to take it down. I wouldn’t have blamed you for wanting to retreat from an overt sign of support. But that is not enough. It is YOU who could write a letter or place a phone call to your Tea Party darling. Advise Ken Paxton to resign!
Prestonwood Baptist Church. And all church leaders. I think it is good that you are praying for the AG. He needs all of our prayers. He will need them more if he goes to prison. But right now there are many of you, including the pastoral leadership, who could be a Prophet Nathan and hold up the mirror to Ken Paxton. Surely you know this has to be done. Your misplaced encouragement to stay the course has made the man delusional. Advise Ken Paxton to resign.
Citizens. If you were like me and blindly chose the Republican ticket route, then you are as dumb as I am. It was a mistake. The major daily newspapers warned us of this Bad Boy. We didn’t read or didn’t care or had socks coming out of the drier and didn’t ask questions. Repent. He is a major embarrassment to Texas. Write a letter or jump on a bus to protest in Austin. Advise Ken Paxton to resign!
Conclusion. This dragging out of the inevitable is costing tax payer money. It is also eroding the integrity of our political system. It is putting Texas in a bad light. Every major newspaper in the country is focused once again on this bad actor. I truly believe he did not start out this way. But his ambition got the best of him. This is all of his doing.
Please, please, advise AG Ken Paxton to resign! LFM