Texas AG Paxton rejects Romney standard from Roy Moore case (Politico)

Texas AG Paxton rejects Romney standard from Roy Moore case

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“What I love about voters in Texas: They’re very smart,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. | AP Photo

Texas AG Paxton rejects Romney standard from Roy Moore case

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton isn’t on board with former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s approach to the allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

After Moore supporters said he was entitled to a presumption of innocence regarding claims that he had inappropriate contacts with teenage girls, Romney took to Twitter to say the standard used in criminal cases isn’t the correct one to apply in the political realm.

“Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections,” he said.

Paxton said in an interview airing Sunday that he has a different take from that of the former Massachusetts governor and potential 2018 candidate for a Senate seat from Utah.

“I don’t agree with him,” Paxton said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “I would disagree with Mitt Romney on that.”

Paxton’s perspective appears to be driven at least in part by his own predicament: He’s under indictment in Texas on state charges of securities fraud and failing to register as an investment adviser. The charges involve his solicitation of investments in a technology company, Severgy Inc., several years prior to his election as attorney general in 2014.

“There’s a gag order, so I can’t talk about the specific case, but what’s great about our country is there’s a presumption of innocence and that is hopefully still the case in our country: You’re not presumed guilty until you’re proven guilty,” Paxton said in the interview, conducted by this reporter and Houston Chronicle Washington Correspondent Kevin Diaz.

Paxton noted that two civil suits related to the same events were filed and dismissed by an Obama-appointed federal judge.

“The federal government came back twice and tried that. We won twice. As far as the charges on the state side, all I can tell you is they’re very similar. I expect to be proven innocent very soon,” the attorney general said.

Paxton, who was not asked directly about the Moore allegations, warned that it’s easy for politically motivated prosecutors to launch a criminal case “just because somebody can throw a charge at you using probable cause, which is a very low standard.”

“There’s obviously lots of politics involved in my state and other states in other places,” he added.

Paxton is up for re-election next year and is facing a Democratic challenger who announced earlier this month, Houston attorney Justin Nelson. Nelson was quick to raise the criminal case, citing it in his news release announcing his candidacy.

“Justice is for all. Nobody is above the law,” Nelson said. “Texans can do better than our indicted Attorney General, who is charged with criminal fraud.”

A trial for Paxton set for December was recently postponed and is now not expected to begin until March or later.

In the interview, the attorney general welcomed any challengers and acknowledged that voters can ultimately use whatever standard they want in deciding how to cast their ballots.

“Look, voters can do what they want to do,” Paxton said. “What I love about voters in Texas: They’re very smart. And they tend to figure out if the reports are accurate and I think over time there’s a reason that I’ve stayed in office and continued to work for things that matter to the people of my state. So, look, let the voters decide.”

The full interview can be viewed here.

Josh Gerstein is a senior reporter for POLITICO.

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via Politico http://politi.co/2lnbIsw

November 19, 2017 at 08:49AM