Why me and not Ken Paxton

Photo by Michael Stravato

The Constitution is under unprecedented assault by the Obama administration. To fight back, we must elect a constitutional conservative with the legal skill and the integrity to succeed Greg Abbott as attorney general. My opponent lacks both.

I have an outstanding record of advancing limited-government solutions over the last decade as a lawmaker and a three-decade record of excellence as a practicing lawyer. I have fought Obamacare and championed the Constitution before the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, I have defended Texas laws protecting life and the family before the Texas Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

Ken Paxton is not even authorized to appear and argue before either the U.S. Supreme Court or the 5th Circuit.

Leading conservative lawyers have overwhelmingly endorsed me for attorney general, including a unanimous coalition of former top deputies to Abbott, former Texas Supreme Court justices and conservative district attorneys, as well as top legal advisers to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. In addition, all of the major statewide law enforcement groups, over 40 Republicans sheriffs and virtually the entire Texas business, professional, health care and agricultural communities have endorsed our campaign as well as thousands of grassroots conservatives and the Texas Alliance for Life.

The reason is simple: Paxton appears unfit to be an attorney — let alone our attorney general.

How can he be our state’s top law enforcement officer when he has a record of repeatedly violating our laws?

This month, Paxton admitted to the Texas State Securities Board that he violated Texas securities laws in 2004, 2005 and 2012 by soliciting investors without registering with the proper enforcement authorities. In addition, he has been sued by his own clients, who accused him of taking kickbacks on their investments. 

We do not know the specific facts of what Paxton did because he won’t tell us. But we do know about other cases where a person engaged in his profession without proper licensing and registration. The Nueces County district attorney’s office and the attorney general’s office jointly prosecuted Mauricio Celis for practicing law without a license, and a jury sentenced him to 10 years in prison, later reduced to probation (Celis v. State, Court of Criminal Appeals, 2013). William Satterwhite Jr. lost his license when he failed to pay his dues on time. A jury subsequently convicted him of practicing law without a license and sentenced him to prison for four and a half years (Satterwhite v. State, CCA ,1998). John Dejean was convicted of practicing law without a license and, as a habitual offender, was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment (Ex Parte John Felix Dejean, CCA, 2008).

Paxton wants to sweep these violations of law aside as minor administrative issues rather than criminal matters. He’s even told some of my supporters that “everyone breaks the law — everyone speeds." 

Paxton himself voted to criminalize the conduct he engaged in as a felony subject to up to 10 years in prison.

Over a decade ago, in the wake of Enron and other investment securities scandals, Abbott’s office sought legislation to protect Texans by strengthening Texas securities laws.

Paxton voted for that legislation. The law took effect in 2003.

Yet over the next decade, Paxton repeatedly committed that very same crime, as he now admits.

So Paxton has just one of two choices: Either he gets to enact laws that everyone (except him) must follow. Or he is subject to possible criminal prosecution and imprisonment. (Depending on facts he won’t tell us, it could be Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg or Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, both Democrats.) 

Paxton could also be subject to federal prosecution by President Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, because some of Paxton’s misdeeds also took place while he was under federal jurisdiction, as he also admitted to the state securities board.

Moreover, his admitted misdeeds could lead to disbarment.

Paxton has offered no serious response to any of this. In fact, he has spent virtually every day over the past month avoiding Tea Party debates, forums, television appearances and other campaign events — nearly 20 opportunities in total to stand on stage with me before the voters. I’ve seen more of former AG candidate Barry Smitherman, who recently endorsed my candidacy and campaigned with me earlier this week, than I have of Paxton.

Texas needs an attorney general who will stand up and fight — not cower and hide.

Police associations in Paxton’s own district have withdrawn their endorsements of him. As his hometown police association said last week, “This is a criminal offense which could possibly be tried by the presiding district attorney or even possibly the office of the U.S. attorney general.”

Texas conservatives have an important decision to make, one that will say a lot about who we are as a movement.

As opponents of federal encroachment and liberal politicians, do we want this fight led by someone who could be indicted at the whim of Democratic prosecutors? As principled conservatives, can we oppose amnesty for illegal aliens while supporting amnesty for our state’s top law enforcement official?

As parents, we wouldn’t tolerate our children saying “everyone breaks the law — everybody’s doing it.” We shouldn’t accept it from our elected officials either. Texans deserve more from a candidate for attorney general.

Texas is an exceptional place. If I am honored to serve, I will fight with integrity to keep it that way and make Texas proud.

Dan Branch

State representative, R-Dallas