Texas AG booked on fraud charges

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was booked Monday on three felony charges, including securities fraud and failing to register with the state's securities board, according to multiple reports.

Paxton turned himself in to the Dallas-area jail, and his mugshot was released shortly thereafter. He becomes the second prominent Texas official to be indicted within the past year, after former Gov. Rick Perry, who is running for president.
 
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A grand jury indicted Paxton on charges stemming from his time before becoming attorney general, alleging he defrauded two individuals of more than $100,000, according to WFAA.
 
He assumed his position of attorney general in January.
 
As Texas's top lawyer, Paxton has seen national attention as the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging President Obama's executive action on immigration and in a recent case involving abortion clinics in the state.

Joe Kendall, Paxton's attorney, said in a statement shared with The Hill that the attorney general would be pleading not guilty and is demanding a jury trial.

Paxton is "looking forward to the opportunity to tell his side of the story," Kendall said, noting they were instructed by a judge not to comment further. 

"In the meantime, the Attorney General is returning to Austin to focus on his work on behalf of the citizens of Texas," Kendall said.

The indictments unsealed Monday allege that in 2011, Paxton offered two people more than $100,000 worth of stock in Servergy, a Texas-based technology company, but didn't disclose he had personally invested in the company and would be compensated in the form of shares.

The company has faced its own legal troubles as it has been under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding the sale of its data servers and their capabilities, according to the Texas Tribune.

The Texas Republican Party slammed the "sloppy process" involving Paxton's case and suggested in a statement that he would fight the charges with the same "zeal" he has pursued other causes in his seven months as attorney general.

However, compared with the indictment of Perry, few Republicans in Texas have rushed to Paxton's defense. 

"Everyone is entitled to due process under the law," Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott in a statement released Monday afternoon. "As a former judge, I recognize this is the first step in a lengthy process and will respect that process as it moves forward." 

Paxton is not required to step down over his indictment. However, Democrats have called for him to do so, alluding to his admission last year that he violated state securities law by not disclosing commissions for referrals to a financial planner. He agreed to pay a $1,000 fine.

"Paxton is an admitted lawbreaker. Now he needs to spare Texas the embarrassment of a drawn out legal fight in the public eye, take responsibility, and accept the consequences," Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.

- This story was updated at 4:30 p.m.