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Saturday , November 17 2018
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Tag Archives: Ken Paxton

Appeals Court Upholds Fraud Charges Against Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has lost his latest bid for dismissal of the securities fraud charges he faces.

A Dallas appeals court on Wednesday upheld the indictments, which accuse Paxton of misleading investors in private business dealings before he took office as the top lawyer for Texas. Paxton’s side asked the 5th Court of Appeals last month to overturn a lower court’s decision not to dismiss the case against him.

“We’re very pleased with the ruling,” said Kent Schaffer, one of the special prosecutors in the case. “We’re looking forward to trial, and we will be preparing for trial.”

Paxton’s team noted that the appeals court “did not hold that Mr. Paxton’s main claims were without merit, rather were premature at this stage of the proceedings.” In a statement, Paxton lawyer Bill Mateja also said the team was considering whether to appeal the decision to the highest criminal court in Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Schaffer and the other special prosecutor in the case, Brian Wice, issued a statement noting how quickly it took the court to reach a unanimous decision — three weeks after oral argument — and said they “are confident that the Court of Criminal Appeals will reject Mr. Paxton’s next round of appeals as surely and as swiftly as the court of appeals did today.”

Paxton has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were handed up last year by a Collin County grand jury. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought a similar case against him earlier this year.

During a hearing before the court last month, Paxton’s lawyers most prominently argued that the grand jury that indicted him was improperly selected. The court rejected that argument in its ruling Wednesday.

“After reviewing the record and, in particular, the process used by the district judge, we conclude the complained-of method of selecting the grand jury is not a complaint that would render the grand jury illegally formed,” Chief Justice Carolyn Wright wrote.

Author:  – The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues

Paxton Shopped Transgender Policy to Second School District

When Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Wednesday that he had filed a lawsuit challenging federal guidelines for transgender students, he said it was to protect a Texas school district that had adopted a policy requiring students to use bathrooms according to the gender cited on their birth certificates.

He didn’t say his office asked the district to pass the policy.

Nor did he say what The Texas Tribune has now learned: that his staff had approached another North Texas school district about pursuing the policy — and the lawsuit — 10 days earlier.

On May 16, two top Paxton aides attended a Wichita Falls school board meeting. The board was considering an agenda item regarding gender-specific restrooms and requesting legal representation from the attorney general’s office.

In a video recording of the meeting, Trey Sralla, the Wichita Falls school board president, introduces Paxton senior adviser Ben Williams and Assistant Attorney General Andrew Leonie, explaining that they are there to answer questions about the proposed policy.

“This has come down from the attorney general’s office, who have asked us to look at a policy here and [said] that they would be willing to on our behalf go and take this to the court system,” Sralla said at the meeting, which came three days after the federal government released guidelines instructing school districts to let transgender students use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

Leonie then fielded several questions from board members, including whether getting involved in legal action would mean the district would lose federal funding.

“I wish I had brought my crystal ball with me but I left that in Austin,” Leonie said. “We are here to reassure you that if you should adopt a policy like is under consideration, we will do what we can to back you and to protect you from the federal government, whether that means being proactive in filing a suit or whether it is responding to a suit, I don’t know.”

After about an hour of discussion, board members ultimately decided against adopting the policy, concluding that the district already had appropriate practices in place to address the needs of transgender students.

“I feel like in this situation we’ve been put between a rock and a hard place by both the federal and our state government where we are the

ones who would be the sacrificial lambs effectively in this fight,” said board member Elizabeth Yeager. “I think that would be completely a waste of time and a distraction from our school business of educating students.”

Wichita Falls Superintendent Michael Kurht also came out against adopting the policy, citing legal counsel that the school district’s current policies were in compliance with the new federal guidelines.

“I don’t know that my time and the district’s time is best suited to do this,” he said.

Ten days after the Wichita Falls board meeting, Paxton announced that he had filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration to protect a different North Texas school district.

“Harrold Independent School District fulfilled a responsibility to their community and adopted a bathroom policy that puts the safety of their students first,” he said in a press conference. “Unfortunately the policy placed them at odds with federal directives handed down earlier this month. That means the district is in the crosshairs of the Obama administration, which has maintained it will punish anyone who doesn’t comply with their orders.”

Harrold Superintendent David Thweatt said at the Wednesday press conference that the attorney general approached him about the policy, which his school board adopted Monday night.

The district adopted the policy, he said, out of concern for “safety, security and dignity of the children.”

Asked to clarify how many school districts the attorney general’s office approached about adopting the transgender policy, Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander did not provide a specific number.

“When the president unilaterally dictates education policy laced with threats of withdrawing federal funding to schools, our office engages with many concerned parents and school officials from around the state,” he said in an email.

He also did not respond directly to a question about whether all of the school districts the office approached are in the same general region, and would’ve fallen under the purview of the same federal court.

“We believe that the merits of this case are strong enough to win in any court in the United States,” he said.

Author:   – The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues