Part of The 2022 midterm elections, explained
On Monday, the top legal authority in the state of Texas reportedly fled his own home rather than allow an official to serve him a subpoena.
According to an account from the man who served the subpoena, reported in the Texas Tribune, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appeared to try and wait out a process server with the subpoena for an hour in his home, then later ran away as the server approached him, and finally rode away in a truck driven by his wife as the server laid the documents on the ground.
Paxton’s lawyers have argued that he was simply intimidated and didn’t realize he was being served with a subpoena. And it certainly seems like the least of Paxton’s worries when it comes to legal entanglements. He’s also the subject of an FBI criminal probe into allegations of bribery, and in 2015, he was indicted and arrested on felony securities fraud charges, for which he has yet to go to trial.
No one should be above the law, especially not a state’s top prosecutor, but there’s no law barring him from continuing to serve in his position despite the allegations against him. Texas voters will get to render a verdict before the courts do, as Paxton is up for reelection in the November midterms.
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After twice winning reelection, then surviving a primary fight this year despite his legal baggage, it seemed as though Paxton was made of Teflon. He has continued to be an influential figure in the Republican Party, in Texas and nationally, often leading splashy, multi-state lawsuits against policies of the Obama and Biden administrations.
He might be more vulnerable this year, advancing from the Republican primary with only 43 percent of the vote (a tepid showing for an incumbent) despite securing former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. And he’s holding a thin lead over his Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza: 5 percentage points and 2 percentage points, according to recent polls by WFAA/Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler, respectively. Both polls showed at least 8 percent of voters were undecided.
Should Paxton prevail, it would suggest that, in a red state like Texas, being a Democrat is still a greater transgression than the litany of charges against him.
Here, we recap Paxton’s recent run-ins with, and runs away from, the law.
The securities fraud charges
In 2015, Paxton was accused by Byron Cook, a former Republican state legislator, and Florida businessman Joel Hochberg of encouraging them to invest $100,000 or more in a technology company called Servergy Inc., without notifying them that he would earn a commission if they did so. This is alleged to have happened in 2011, while Paxton was a member of the Texas House.
The indictment alleges that he “intentionally fail[ed] to disclose” that he had been given compensation in the form of 100,000 shares of Servergy stock, charging him with two counts of securities fraud. He was also charged with a