Ken Paxton

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Ken Paxton
51st Attorney General of Texas
Assumed office
January 5, 2015
Governor Rick Perry
Greg Abbott
Preceded by Greg Abbott
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 8th district
In office
January 2013 – January 4, 2015
Preceded by Florence Shapiro
Succeeded by Van Taylor
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 70th district
In office
January 2003 – January 2013
Preceded by David Counts
Succeeded by Scott Sanford
Personal details
Born (1962-12-23) December 23, 1962 (age 53)
Minot, North Dakota, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Angela Paxton
Alma mater Baylor University
University of Virginia
Religion Nondenominational Christianity

Warren Kenneth "Ken" Paxton, Jr.[1](born December 23, 1962) is an American lawyer and politician. He has served as the Texas Attorney General since January 2015. Paxton won election to the state's top law enforcement job in November 2014 as a champion of the Tea Party movement.[2]

Paxton defeated fellow lawmaker Dan Branch in the Republican primary.[2]

For two years beginning in January 2013, Paxton was a Republican member of the Texas Senate representing District 8, which includes the central-western portion of Collin County and parts of surrounding cities such as Allen, Frisco, and McKinney. From 2003 to 2013, Paxton represented District 70 in the Texas House of Representatives.

In July 2015, Paxton was indicted by a Texas grand jury on felony charges of securities fraud and failing to properly register with the Texas state securities board.[3] In April 2016, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil enforcement action against Paxton regarding the same matter. Paxton is appealing the charges, which he says are politically motivated.[4][5]

Early career[edit]

Paxton attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he majored in psychology and was a member of the Baylor University Chamber of Commerce. In 1985, he was elected Student Body President of Baylor University's Student Government Association.[6] Paxton graduated the same year and continued his education at Baylor University, attending the Hankamer School of Business and earning his MBA in 1986. Paxton then worked for two years as a management consultant before returning to school in 1988. He enrolled at University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Virginia and earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1991.

Paxton then joined the firm of Strasburger & Price, L.L.P, where he worked from 1991 to 1995. He then went to work for J.C. Penney Company, Inc., as in-house legal counsel. In 2002, he left J.C. Penney to start his own firm specializing in estate planning, probate, real estate and general business matters and to run for office in Texas House District 70.

A resident of McKinney, Texas, Paxton serves or has served on numerous local organizations and councils. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce in Allen, Frisco, and McKinney. He is a director of the Centennial Medical Center. He is a member and former director of the Collin County Bar Association, a member of the Dallas Estate Planning Council, director at Marketplace Ministries, and a member of Rotary International in McKinney. Paxton is a charter member of the nondenominational Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, founded in 1998 by senior pastor Chuck Swindoll.[7]

Texas House of Representatives[edit]



On March 12, 2002, Paxton ran for his first nomination in the Republican primary for the Texas House in District 70 against five opponents. He captured 39.45% of the vote and moved into a runoff with Bill Vitz, whom he then defeated with 64% of the vote. He then went on to face Fred Lusk (D) and Robert Worthington (L) for the newly redistricted open seat. On November 4, 2002, Paxton secured his first win with 28,012 votes to Lusk's 7,074 votes and Worthington's 600 votes.[8]


On November 4, 2004, Paxton faced a challenge from the Democrat Martin Woodward after running unopposed for the Republican nomination. Paxton captured 76% of the vote, or 58,520 votes compared to 18,451 votes for Woodward.[9]


On November 4, 2006, Paxton won his 3rd term in the Texas House of Representatives, defeating Rick Koster (D) and Robert Virasin (L). Paxton received 30,062 votes to Koster's 12,265 votes and Virasin's 1,222 votes.[10]


On November 4, 2008, Paxton won House re-election by again defeating Robert Virasin (L), 73,450 to 11,751 votes.[11]


Paxton ran unopposed for re-election in both the Republican primary and the general election in 2010. On November 11, 2010, entering his last term as a state representative, Paxton announced that he would run for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives against Joe Straus of District 121 in Bexar County and fellow Republican Warren Chisum of District 88 in Pampa, Texas. Paxton said:

On Election Day [2010], we witnessed a monumental shift in the political climate, and I believe that historic opportunities demand bold action in defense of our conservative values. Voters across Texas sent a clear message that they favor leadership dedicated to protecting our freedoms and fighting government growth. Texans have provided us with an historic mandate, and they expect us to use this mandate to honestly advance conservative principles and not simply protect the status quo. These goals can only be accomplished with a conservative Speaker.[12]

Straus was elected to his second term as Speaker, and was re-elected again in 2013 and 2015.


Political action committees[edit]

After joining the House in 2003, Paxton was endorsed and supported by multiple non-partisan and conservative organizations. Paxton was one of six Texas House candidates endorsed by HuckPAC, the official political action committee of Mike Huckabee.[13]

Paxton received endorsements and "A" ratings from the National Rifle Association[14] and the state affiliated chapter, Texas State Rifle Association.[15]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Land & Resource Management Committee, Texas House
  • Ways & Means Committee, Texas House
  • Fiscal Stability, Texas House

Texas State Senate[edit]

Paxton was elected to the Texas State Senate in 2012, and served for two years, until January 2015, when his term as Attorney General began.

Attorney General of Texas[edit]

2014 election[edit]

Paxton was a candidate for Texas attorney general. Then-Attorney General Greg Abbott decided to retire from office to successfully run for Governor, succeeding Rick Perry and creating an opening in the office of Attorney General.[16]

Paxton led a three-candidate field in the Republican primary held on March 4, 2014, and polled 566,114 votes (44.4%). State Representative Dan Branch of Dallas County received 426,595 votes (33.5 percent). Eliminated in the primary was Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman of Austin, who polled the remaining 281,064 (22.1 percent).

Paxton faced Dan Branch in the runoff election on May 27, 2014, and won with 465,395 votes (63.63 percent). Branch received 265,963 votes (36.36 percent).[17][18]

In the November 4 general election, Paxton defeated a Democratic attorney from Houston named Sam Houston. At a meeting of the sheriff's association in July, Paxton said that if elected he would be committed to defending state laws and envisioned Texas "remaining a beacon of freedom and liberty to the nation."[19]


Paxton took office on January 5, 2015.[20]

On June 28, 2015, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Paxton issued a statement offering moral support for clerks with religious objections to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. His statement said in part that "numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis, and I will do everything I can from this office to be a public voice for those standing in defense of their rights."[21]

Paxton is leading a coalition of 13 states that are seeking an immediate halt to the Obama administration's transgender bathrooms directive.[22][23]

Paxton's campaign raised $945,000 in the first half of 2016, leaving Paxton with just under $3 million in his campaign account for a potential 2018 re-election bid.[24]

Criminal indictment and SEC fraud civil action against Paxton[edit]

On July 31, 2015, a state grand jury indicted Paxton on charges of felony securities fraud.[25] Paxton's indictment marked the first such criminal prosecution of a Texas Attorney General in 32 years since Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox was indicted for bribery in 1983.[3]

On August 3, 2015, following the grand jury indictment, Paxton was arrested and booked. He faces two first-degree securities fraud charges, along with another third-degree felony charge, which carry a total sentence of 5 to 99 years if he is convicted.[26] He was released on $35,000 bail.[27] The charges against Paxton relate to business dealings which occurred prior to his election as Attorney General of Texas. The charges stem from Paxton's role in recruiting investors for a technology company while allegedly failing to disclose that he was being compensated by the company. Paxton says he did not receive compensation, and that shares of the company that he received from the company's founder were a gift.[5]

On April 11, 2016, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil enforcement action against Paxton in federal court. The SEC's complaint specifically charged Paxton with violating various provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and various provisions (including Rule 10b-5) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.[28] Paxton denied the allegations. He is appealing the state and federal charges against him, which he says are politically motivated.[29][5][30][31][29][32]

Electoral history[edit]

Texas House of Representatives 70th District Republican Primary Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton 2,168 39.45
Republican Bill Vitz 1,171 21.31
Republican Matt Matthews 1,100 20.02
Republican Robert Rankins 954 17.36
Republican Harry Pierce 102 1.86
Texas House of Representatives 70th District Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton 2,775 63.33
Republican Bill Vitz 1,607 36.67
Texas House of Representatives 70th District Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton 28,012 78.50
Democratic Fred Lusk 7,074 19.82
Libertarian Robert Worthington 600 1.68
Texas House of Representatives 70th District Election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton (inc.) 58,250 76.03
Democratic Martin Woodward 18,451 23.97
Texas House of Representatives 70th District Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton (inc.) 30,062 69.03
Democratic Rick Koster 12,265 28.16
Libertarian Robert Virasin 1,222 2.81
Texas House of Representatives 70th District Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton (inc.) 73,450 86.21
Libertarian Robert Virasin 11,751 13.79
Texas House of Representatives 70th District Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton (inc.) 43,006 100.00
Texas Senate 8th District Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton 178,238 62.29
Democratic Jack Ternan, Jr. 99,010 34.60
Libertarian Ed Kless 8,899 3.11
Texas Attorney General Republican Primary Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton 569,034 44.45
Republican Dan Branch 428,325 33.46
Republican Barry Smitherman 282,701 22.08
Texas Attorney General Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton 466,407 63.41
Republican Dan Branch 269,098 36.59
Texas Attorney General Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ken Paxton 2,743,473 58.82
Democratic Sam Houston 1,773,250 38.02
Libertarian Jamie Balagia 118,197 2.53
Green Jamar Osborne 29,591 0.63


  1. ^ "Mr. Warren Kenneth Paxton Jr.". State Bar of Texas. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Weber, Paul J. (2015-08-04). "Indicted Texas attorney general rode tea party to power". Associated Press. Retrieved 2015-11-04. 
  3. ^ a b "Grand Jury Indicts Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, on Felony Charges". The New York Times. August 1, 2015. 
  4. ^ McGaughy, Lauren (May 12, 2016). "Ken Paxton appears in appeals court to fight indictments". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Soloman, Dan (April 12, 2016). "Ken Paxton's Legal Battles, Explained". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  6. ^ McGaughy, Lauren (October 11, 2014). "Ken Paxton waging shadow campaign for attorney general seat". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  7. ^ "Project Vote Smart – Representative Ken Paxton, Jr. – Biography". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  8. ^ "Texas House official election results for 2002 and Republican Primary Election 2002". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  9. ^ "Texas House official election results for 2004". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  10. ^ "Texas House official election results for 2006". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  11. ^ "Texas House official election results for 2008". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  12. ^ "Rep. Ken Paxton announces bid for Texas House Speaker". The Ellis County Press. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  13. ^ "Huck Pac – Candidates". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  14. ^ "National Rifle Association – Political Victory Fund, Texas". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  15. ^ "TSRA PAC – Voters Guide" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  16. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014". Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Texas – Summary Vote Results". Associated Press. May 28, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2015. 
  18. ^ Grissom, Brandi. Tea Party Conservatives Win Top GOP Runoff Contests, Texas Tribune, May 28, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  19. ^ Philip Balli, "Two vie for state AG post", Laredo Morning Times, October 16, 2014, p. 3A
  20. ^ Blanchard, Bobby (January 5, 2015). "Top Texas Officials on Hand as Paxton is Sworn In". Texas Tribune. Austin, Texas. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  21. ^ Garrett, Robert T. (June 28, 2015). "Texas AG Ken Paxton lends moral support to clerks who refuse gay marriages". The Dallas Morning News. 
  22. ^ McGaughy, Lauren (July 6, 2016). "Texas AG Ken Paxton wants court to halt Obama edict on transgender bathrooms before school starts". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  23. ^ Richardson, Bradford (July 7, 2016). "Texas AG leads fight against Obama's bathroom order". Washington Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  24. ^ Lindell, Chuck (July 15, 2016). "Ken Paxton campaign takes in almost $945,000". Austin-American Statesman. Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  25. ^ Herskovitz, Jon; Whitcomb, Dan (August 1, 2015). "Texas attorney general indicted by grand jury on fraud charges: reports". Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  26. ^ Weber, Paul J. (August 3, 2015). "Ken Paxton Indicted". Associated Press. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Paxton will plead not guilty, ask for jury trial | | Dallas Morning News". 2015-08-03. Retrieved 2015-11-04. 
  28. ^ SEC: Company Misled Investors About Energy-Efficient Technology, Securities and Exchange Commission (press release) (April 12, 2016).
  29. ^ a b Martha Neil, SEC sues Texas AG Ken Paxton for securities fraud; his lawyer 'vehemently denies' claims, ABA Journal (April 11, 2016).
  30. ^ Lauren McGaughy, Feds charge Texas AG Ken Paxton with fraud, Dallas Morning News (April 11, 2016).
  31. ^ Chuck Lindell, SEC accuses Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of fraud, Austin American-Statesman (April 11, 2016).
  32. ^ McGaughy, Lauren (August 2, 2016). "Texas AG Ken Paxton appeals fraud case again in final attempt to quash felony indictments". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 25 August 2016. 

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
David Counts
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 70th district

Succeeded by
Scott Sanford
Texas Senate
Preceded by
Florence Shapiro
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 8th district

Succeeded by
Van Taylor
Legal offices
Preceded by
Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas