Attorney General Ken Paxton has $5.2 million heading into re-election season
State documents show $1 million collected within first half of 2017
July 18, 2017
Updated: July 18, 2017 7:57pm
AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton raked in more than $1 million during the first half of the year, bringing the indicted Republican’s political war chest to more than $5.2 million, according to state records.
Details of Paxton’s political fundraising, filed Monday with the Texas Ethics Commission, shows that the attorney general, who is facing felony charges of securities fraud, enjoys political and financial support from big donors as he nears his trial and first re-election bid as the state’s top lawyer.
“Even prior to his public service, he was a GOP activist working in the political trenches at the local level,” said Matt Welch, Paxton’s campaign spokesman. “The fact that more people are supporting Attorney General Paxton’s campaign to a greater extent than before is a testament to his track record of success and outstanding leadership on issues important to all Texans.”
Most of Paxton’s support comes from big donors who cut five-figure checks to his campaign. Eighty-five percent of his take this year came from contributions of at least $10,000, and nearly all came from within the state.
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The bulk of his contributions in the six-month reporting period spanning January through June came from corporate CEOs and presidents, including those from oil and gas companies and investment firms.
More than half of the $1,056,356 collection was made in checks for more than $20,000. Paxton’s largest contribution came from the Republican Attorneys General Association, which gave him $100,000.
The largest check from an individual came from Dan Wilks, who gave $51,000. Wilks’ brother, Farris, nearly matched the contribution with a $50,000 check.
The two West Texas fracking billionaires are listed as CEOs of Wilks Brothers LLC and spent at least $15 million to support Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential bid. The Wilks family has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Texas tea party groups and conservative causes, including those pushing efforts to unseat House Speaker Joe Straus, a moderate Republican from San Antonio.
Paxton received a third $50,000 check from Kenny Troutt, chairman and CEO of Mount Vernon Investments, headquartered in Dallas. The former director of Excel Telecommunications Inc., Troutt’s net worth is valued at $1.41 billion, according to Forbes.
$25,000 from Webb
The attorney general also received a $25,000 check from James Webb of Frisco, CEO of Preferred Imaging. Paxton has received contributions in the past from Webb, although Webb’s company was under investigation by the attorney general’s office for Medicaid fraud. Paxton’s office and the U.S. Justice Department signed off on a $3.5 million settlement on a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. Paxton’s spokesman said at the time the attorney general was not involved in the case.
While the campaign finance reporting period covers from January to June, office holders are barred from fundraising directly before, after and during a legislative session. That left 12 days for Paxton to accept donations, during which he collected more than $1 million.
In the first six months of the year, Paxton spent $298,249 from his campaign account. His total cash on hand totals $5,270,565, although no one has announced plans to run against him in the primary or general election.
Paxton, a tea party Republican from Collin County, has spent much of his tenure in the attorney general’s office fighting allegations that he committed securities fraud by failing to tell friends and colleagues he would make a commission off their investment in Servergy, a North Texas tech company. He is also charged with failing to register with the state as an investment adviser. He faces two first-degree felony charges and one lesser, third-degree charge.
He maintains his innocence and contends he is the victim of a political witch hunt. A federal judge this year tossed similar charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He raised nearly $218,000 in 2016 in gifts from friends and relatives to support his legal defense fund.
Paxton, who faces 99 years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines if found guilty, is due in Houston for a criminal court hearing July 27.