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Ken Paxton’s Disappearing Felony Indictment
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been under felony indictment nearly the entire time he has served as Texas Attorney General. Paxton was sworn in as AG on January 5, 2015 and indicted on felony swindling charges just seven months later, on August 1, 2015. During the 35 months since then, Ken Paxton has used public relations and legal maneuvers to distract voters while avoiding trial, judgement and a possible prison sentence.
It is understandable if Texas voters don’t know about the felony charges pending against Paxton. In the last year and a half, the charges against Paxton have been barely mentioned in daily news coverage. The Lone Star Project recently reviewed over 2,700 stories posted by over 60 publications since January 1, 2017. Paxton’s felony indictment is mentioned in fewer than 11 percent.
Instead of resigning, Paxton used state funds to launch a PR campaign
Shortly after his felony indictment, many Texas newspapers called for Paxton’s resignation. However, instead of responsibly stepping aside, Paxton fired his existing legal team, hired new staff from right-wing evangelical organizations and used state tax dollars to hire two partisan PR firms to burnish his image – all in an effort to get his felony out of the news.
Paxton says “No one is above the law,” but who will hold him accountable for his crimes?
When filing what by all appearances is a partisan and racially charged case against Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens, Paxton said: “No one is above the law. My office intends to hold them accountable.” The real question, though, is: Who will hold Ken Paxton accountable?
Paxton is the ONLY statewide elected official in the United States currently serving while under indictment.
Last week, Politifact confirmed that Paxton is the only statewide elected official in the country who is currently under felony indictment. Others who have faced indictment during Paxton’s time in office, including the Republican Governor of Missouri and the Democratic Attorney General of Pennsylvania, have resigned.
Will Paxton’s Divide and Distract Strategy Work?
With the 2018 General Election less than five months away, will the Paxton’s divide and distract strategy continue to keep media attention focused on his political and legal maneuvers as AG rather than his status as a criminal defendant charged with felony crimes against his fellow Texans?