Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted for securities fraud and failing to register as a securities adviser, according to Collin County, Texas records.
Paxton was elected in November as part of a Republican sweep of statewide races after being reprimanded for steering clients to a friend’s investment firm. State regulators accused him of failing to tell clients he was getting a 30 percent share of their fees. Paxton admitted to the violation in May 2014 and paid a $1,000 administrative fine.
On Monday, he arrived at the Collin County jail in McKinney and was quickly processed before leaving in a caravan of black SUVs. He was charged with two counts of securities fraud and one count of failure to register as a securities adviser representative. He was released on $35,000 bond.
The indictment by a state grand jury containing details of the charges has yet to be made public.
Paxton, 52, isn’t the first attorney general in Texas to face prosecution. Jim Mattox, who served from 1983 to 1991, was charged in 1983 on commercial bribery charges. Dan Morales, who served from 1991 to 1999, was indicted on fraud charges in 2003.
Mattox was acquitted. Morales plead guilty and was sentenced to four years in federal prison. Prosecutors have said previously Paxton could face five years to 99 years in prison if convicted.
Texans for Public Justice, a liberal public watchdog group, filed the initial complaint against Paxton with the state’s public-integrity unit in Austin. Houston criminal defense attorneys Kent Schaffer and Brian Wise were appointed as special prosecutors after the case became a political football.
The public integrity unit decided it lacked authority to conduct the probe, sending it to the district attorney in Paxton’s home county, north of Dallas. The Collin County prosecutor later stepped aside because he is a friend and business partner of Paxton.
“Ken Paxton has abused people’s faith in his public office,” Craig McDonald, the director of Texans for Public Justice, said Monday in an e-mailed statement. He called for Paxton to resign.