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Ken Paxton's 'Family Friends' Help Foot Legal Bill, Disclosure Shows

Marjorie Kamys Cotera
Texas Tribune
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton during a May 25, 2016, press conference.

From the Texas Tribune: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, facing federal and state securities fraud charges, is getting more than a little help from his friends to foot his growing legal bill.

The Republican accepted more than $329,000 earmarked for his legal defense from donors and “family friends,” according to a newly released financial disclosure statement.

The document, which Paxton filed to the Texas Ethics Commission on Friday, shows gifts from more than two dozen people or couples labeled “family friends.”

That included a $100,000 gift from James Webb, a CEO of a medical imaging firm who lives in Frisco and is a major Paxton donor. He and his living trust have donated more than $355,000 to Paxton’s campaign.

Steven and Carrie Parsons, who have also donated thousands of dollars to Paxton’s campaign, chipped in $75,000 for his legal bills — the second-biggest gift, according to the filing.

Paxton is accused of misleading investors in a technology company — raising hundreds of thousands of dollars without disclosing that he was making a commission.  

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil lawsuit against him, and he faces three felony criminal counts in a Collin County court. Paxton has vehemently denied the accusations, and pleaded not guilty on all the criminal charges.

Paxton's defense team contains some of the state's top legal talent, and his tab is expected to reach millions of dollars in cases that could take years to resolve. The question of who was paying had swirled for months

Paxton has said he is not tapping campaign contributions or taxpayer dollars. Texas law bars such practices, because his case does not involve his official duties.

In his filing Friday, Paxton categorized the defense fund money as a "gift." 

State bribery laws prohibit elected officials from receiving gifts from people or entities subject to their authority, and as attorney general, Paxton's could extend broadly. Seeking to circumvent those barriers, Paxton's filing cited an "independent relationship" exception. That allows gifts from family members and those "independent" of an office holder's "official status."

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