Indicted Texas attorney general says he is staying in office

Reuters News
Posted: May 12, 2016 11:16 AM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, facing state and federal securities fraud charges, released a video ahead of a hearing in a state appeals court on Thursday, saying he is staying in office and being targeted because of his Christian beliefs.

Lawyers for Paxton, a Tea Party Republican, are trying to have three state charges against the Texas lawman dismissed, arguing they are "unconstitutionally vague."

The lawyers told an appeals court in Dallas on Thursday the grand jury that charged him was improperly impaneled, but according to local media reports, special prosecutors said all procedures were proper and Paxton should be tried in court. Paxton attended the proceedings.

"I am here to tell you that I am not going anywhere and I want you to know that I am continuing to do the job I was elected to do," he said in the video released on social media on Wednesday night.

The comments are some of the most extensive he has made about the charges against him. After the hearing, Paxton told reporters he will prevail.

In a state indictment unsealed in August 2015, Paxton was charged with defrauding investors and illegally acting as a securities agent.

In the video, he says he is innocent and the attack against him is politically motivated. He adds some of his opponents "are upset that I am a conservative Christian and made no bones about it."

Paxton drew national attention last year when he said Texas county clerks who object to gay marriage on religious grounds can refuse to license same-sex couples despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring states to allow same-sex marriage.

He is facing an ethics investigation, which could lead to his disbarment, for advising state officials to violate a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Paxton is facing two security fraud charges related to stock sales and compensation from the Texas technology firm Servergy. The company had been under federal investigation for suspected misstatements about orders for its data servers.

He also faces charges he illegally acted as a securities agent for a separate firm. He can face up to 99 years in prison if convicted.

Paxton was charged by a grand jury after a probe by the Texas Rangers, a statewide police agency, and two special prosecutors with Republican ties.

Paxton has sued President Barack Obama at least eight times since becoming Texas attorney general last year.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Diane Craft)