Ken Paxton, the embattled Texas attorney general, survived an impeachment vote in the state Senate over the weekend, but the case is far from behind him: The U.S. Department of Justice still has an open investigation into many of the same accusations of corruption and abuse. office.
And in October, Paxton’s lawyers will appear before state prosecutors to set a trial date for his pending indictment on two counts of securities fraud, an eight-year-old case that senators did not directly address in their acquittal vote. on Saturday.
His attorney, Dan Cogdell, predicted the securities case would be resolved quickly.
“They should dismiss it, and if they don’t dismiss it, we’ll try to beat them there just like we beat them here,” he said Saturday of the state charges. He was less willing to make a prediction about the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the public integrity section of the Justice Department. “I don’t talk to the FBI; I try not to,” he said.
Paxton has faced a cloud of legal problems since taking over as attorney general in 2015, succeeding Greg Abbott, who is now governor. He has been re-elected twice, in part by aligning himself with the right-wing politics espoused by former President Donald J. Trump. Voters delivered comfortable victories for Paxton even after his impeachment and after several of his top aides claimed he had abused his office by helping a wealthy donor, the subject of the recent attempt to oust him from office.
But legal experts said that after the Senate acquittal, Paxton could face a more serious legal threat from the pending Justice Department investigation. State prosecutors said in February that the department is investigating allegations made by whistleblowers that Paxton provided unusual help from his office to benefit a political donor, Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor, and that Paul had paid for renovations on his house and hired a woman he was having an affair with.
The case was taken over by the Justice Department’s public integrity section in Washington, state prosecutors said, after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas was recused. The reason for the recusal was not explained and the department has not responded to inquiries.
Federal agents in Texas were accused by Mr. Paul of misconduct, and it was Mr. Paul’s successful attempt to have Mr. Paxton investigate them that formed a significant part of the whistleblowers’ allegations. It is possible that the takeover by agents in Washington was done to avoid the emergence of any conflict in the Texas office.
Federal investigators will likely rely on evidence and testimony that became public during recent legislative hearings. More than a dozen witnesses described how Paxton repeatedly used his office to help Paul.
In June, federal prosecutors accused Paul of making false statements to financial institutions by exaggerating the value of his assets, telling mortgage companies and credit unions that he had more money than he did. The case could provide incentive for Paul to cooperate with the federal government in the Paxton investigation, legal analysts said.
But time may be on Mr. Paxton’s side. Federal investigations often drag on for months and years, and Paxton’s lawyers could count on the possibility that a new Republican administration will be less inclined to pursue the case.
Paxton and his supporters have long tried to present the cases against him as a plot by his political opponents (the Biden administration, Texas liberals and moderate Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives) to undermine the conservative faction of the game.
On Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a harsh critic of the impeachment case sent to the state Senate by the Texas House, asked the state auditor to determine how much public money had been spent on the process.
“To be clear, the goal is to determine the absolute total cost to the State for preparing and conducting this trial from inception to completion,” Patrick said in a statement.
Also on Monday, Mr. Paxton’s wife, State Senator Angela Paxton, broke her silence after days of watching without comment as House managers presented evidence against her husband, including an attempt to call the woman with who her husband was having an extramarital affair. relationship. Ms. Paxton attended the hearings, but she was not allowed to deliberate or vote.
““This was a monumental moment in Texas history, for me as a senator and, of course, personally,” she said in a statement. “If I had been allowed to vote, I would have voted alongside those who acquitted me of each and every article.”
In the securities fraud case pending in Harris County, Mr. Paxton faces charges that he solicited clients and investors for two companies while he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Prosecutors said he misled investors in a technology company, Servergy Inc., by soliciting more than $600,000 in investments in 2011, but misrepresented himself as an investor in the company and did not disclose that he was earning a commission on the investments.
Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University who has followed the cases closely, said people accused of similar charges are often hit with fines and almost never end up going to trial. “I think it’s reasonable to argue that if he hadn’t been the attorney general, those charges would never have been filed,” Mr. Jones said.
Pre-trial disagreements have caused years of delays.
The next real test for Paxton will be the polls, when he makes the case for re-election in 2026.
He has remained popular among his base, even during the impeachment process. According to a recent survey by Texas Policy Project At the University of Texas at Austin, only 24 percent of Republican respondents agreed that there was enough evidence of wrongdoing to justify his dismissal. A larger proportion said they disagreed, had no opinion or did not know.
J. David Goodman contributed with reports. Susan C. Playaro contributed to the research.