On Monday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for alleged acts of securities fraud. According to the federal regulators, Paxton raised $840,000 for a tech startup while he was a state legislator—without disclosing to investors that he was being compensated to boost the company, as is legally required. A Texas grand jury indicted Paxton last year for felony fraud over the same alleged misdeed of making secret commissions. If convicted, Paxton could face years in prison. He denies all charges—though in 2014, he did admit to illegally acting as a securities broker without registering with the state.
The new federal charges arrive just a week before the most important day of Paxton’s career: Next Monday, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the legality of President Barack Obama’s deferred deportation executive actions—litigation led by Paxton in his capacity as Texas attorney general. Paxton, a Republican, is also the lead author of a crucial brief filed to the Supreme Court explaining why the justices should side against Obama’s executive actions. (Incidentally, some legal scholars have argued that Paxton’s brief is filled with intentional obfuscation that violates rules of professional conduct.)
Outside of Texas, Paxton is perhaps best known for illegally resisting the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges by ordering a state agency to list a gay, married man as “single” on his death certificate. Paxton called the Obergefell decision “lawless.”