In the race to replace Texas Attorney General and Republican nominee for Governor Greg Abbott, state Sen. Ken Paxton was the frontrunner in the March Republican primary. It was yet another example of Republican primary voters choosing to go with the least qualified person for the job. Paxton is more of a real estate investor than he is an attorney but voters didn’t seem to pay attention, focusing only on his loose affiliation with Sen. Ted Cruz and tea party endorsements. Let’s hope that in the runoff, voters get serious and look at Paxton’s lack of accomplishment during his legislative career and his many problems with financial transparency.
Fortunately, the Texas Tribune’s Jay Root has pieced a few of Paxton’s problems together in a piece titled “Paxton Campaign Reviewing Disclosure Lapses” published this morning. Here are a few snippets:
The facts in at least one case from 2006 demonstrate that Paxton was being paid at a time that he wasn’t registered with the state to do paid solicitor work.
The case involved two of Mowery’s customers — Teri and David Goettsche of Dallas. In a September 2006 letter, Mowery informed a concerned and apparently surprised Teri Goettsche that Paxton — whom she had previously retained as a lawyer on a separate matter — was being paid a 30 percent commission for referring her to Mowery’s investment firm.
The Goettsches’ lawyer, John Sloan of Longview, said the couple lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the failed land deal, and only found out about Paxton’s role when things started to go south in the summer of 2006. Teri Goettsche was referred to Mowery after hiring Paxton to prepare a post-nuptial agreement in 2003 and didn’t realize the lawyer-turned-politician was also getting paid as a solicitor, they said in the lawsuit.
This isn’t the first time Paxton has failed to disclose a business interest. The lawmaker did not reveal his interest in a lucrative state contract on 2007 ethics disclosures until The Associated Press reported on it in 2008. At the time, he blamed the lapse on a technical snafu and promptly corrected it.
Joe Larsen, a board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and chairman of the group’s review committee, said he was not familiar with Paxton’s track record on transparency. But he said that “the history of one’s personal transparency is absolutely indicative of how objective a person would be in deciding other transparency issues.”
The funny thing about this is that Paxton presents himself as some sort of Boy Scout Sunday School teacher. And thus far, the press has let him get away with that persona. I hope more journalists get interested in Paxton’s business dealings and bills he filed as a state representative. Perhaps then the voters will see Paxton for what he is instead of the fairy tale they think they know.