By John Kanelis
The hits just keep coming for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Think of it. The AG is awaiting trial on allegations that he committed securities fraud. A Collin County grand jury indicted the former McKinney-based legislator on felony charges. That was in 2015 and he still hasn’t stood for trial.
Now we hear from several top attorney general’s office staffers that they are concerned that Paxton might have abused the power of office. They are tossing out the term “bribery” in a letter written to the FBI asking for a federal investigation into Paxton’s conduct as Texas attorney general.
Hey, this isn’t anything to sneeze at … you know?
Gov. Greg Abbott calls the allegations a “serious matter,” and is declining further comment. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick calls them “very concerning,” and he is clamming up, too.
It’s interesting to me that one of the individuals who quit the AG’s office is Jeff Mateer, who was Paxton’s main man, his top aide in the office. Mateer walked away this past week when the letter was made public.
To be fair, the letter does not specify the allegations. It does allege some serious misconduct but doesn’t cite any specifics. That is where an independent probe would come in.
The Texas Tribune reports: “We have a good faith belief that the attorney general is violating federal and/or state law including prohibitions related to improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses,” seven agency leaders wrote in a one-page letter obtained by the (Austin American-) Statesman.
The attorney general shouldn’t have these kinds of clouds hanging over him. He is the state’s chief law enforcement officer and, therefore, needs to be free of this kind of suspicion.
As for the federal probe, by all means let us have that investigation proceed. We need answers to the questions these top aides have raised about Paxton’s conduct.
John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.
Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy