Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, indicted late last week for multiple felonies stemming from his alleged encouragement of investors to put more than $600,000 into a McKinney technology company, was booked into Collin County Jail Monday morning. In a civil proceeding, he has already admitted to one of the acts included in the indictment: failing to register with the state securities board.
Paxton arrived and departed the jail in a black SUV, attracting as little fanfare as possible. Typically, people arrested in Collin County have to wear a towel around their necks for their booking photos, but Paxton was allowed to show off his shirt collar and red tie. He was released on a personal recognizance bond.
Texas Democrats held an anti-Paxton rally at the courthouse calling for the attorney general's resignation shortly after his turning himself in.
Edward Espinoza, the executive director of Progress Texas, said Monday that Paxton's indictment shows the hazards of all of Texas' leadership belonging to one party.
"Republicans have known about Ken Paxton's well-reported illegalities for more than a year — and did nothing. This is why Texas needs a progressive fighter to ensure criminal justice reform and transparency in government — because they will never happen under unchecked Republican-party rule," he said.
Paxton's fellow Republicans in the state's leadership have remained largely silent. Neither Governor Greg Abbott or Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has said anything about Paxton's indictment. The Texas GOP issued a statement on behalf of the party Monday, which somehow tied Paxton's arrest to his ongoing crusade against Planned Parenthood.
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“There’s a reason why Texans have warily observed this news. Some of the outrageous events surrounding this sloppy process certainly do not typify the level of quality that Texans expect from our judicial system. Since being overwhelmingly elected by the voters of Texas, General Paxton has helped lock up child predators, investigated the odious acts of Planned Parenthood, relentlessly pushed back against an overreaching federal government, and we expect him to fight these allegations with that same zeal. Ken Paxton, like all Americans, deserves to have his say in a court of law, rather than be judged in a court of public opinion that is presided over by liberal interest groups," Texas GOP spokesman Aaron Whitehead said.
Microphones were set up outside the Collin County Courthouse for a potential statement by Paxton, but he never showed, possibly because of the gag order that's in effect regarding his case.
Update: 2:00 p.m. — Paxton's attorney, Joe Kendall, has issued the following statement on behalf of his client:
"Attorney General Ken Paxton will plead not guilty to these accusations and he will demand a trial by jury. He is looking forward to the opportunity to tell his side of the story in the courtroom of Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher, who was appointed to the case after Judge Chris Oldner’s recusal on July 29. Judge Gallagher has given instructions to make no further public comments or publicly speculate on events. Attorney General Paxton and I intend to comply with Judge Gallagher’s instructions. In the meantime, the Attorney General is returning to Austin to focus on his work on behalf of the citizens of Texas."