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Decade-long criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton almost over

Decade-long criminal case against Ken Paxton almost over
Decade-long criminal case against Ken Paxton almost over 21:00

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's state criminal case is almost over, but the special prosecutors say Collin County still owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars each. Brandon Gill, the favorite to become the next congressman representing the 26th District in North Texas, discusses how he defeated 10 other Republicans in the primary. Retired Lt. Col. Allen West sits down with political reporter Jack Fink to break down his big victory as Dallas County GOP Chair and what he sees as the number one concern facing the local Republican Party: lack of focus in urban areas.

Jack Fink covers these stories and more in the latest edition of Eye on Politics (original air date: March 31).

Done Deal, Unfinished Business

After ten years, Attorney General Ken Paxton is putting his criminal case behind him — without facing trial.

Paxton was indicted in 2015 on state securities fraud charges, but the case has been repeatedly delayed because of pay disputes, changes of venue and legal back-and-forth.

Last Tuesday, he agreed to an 18-month deal — without admitting any guilt. It's called a pre-trial diversion.

The terms are:

  • Paxton will have to pay more than $270,000 in restitution to the victims related to the state securities fraud charges.
  • Paxton will have to perform 100 hours of community service, which Special Prosecutor Brian Wice said may involve spending time at a food pantry or soup kitchen.
  • Paxton will have to check in with prosecutors virtually every 60 days.

At a news conference after the court hearing, Wice revealed he's been inundated with sharp criticism from members of the public who heard about the potential deal late last week. 

"I have been called everything but a child of God by these people and to them I say, I appreciate your concern and with all due respect, your truth is not the truth," he said. "You know one half of 1% of what Mr. Silverman and I know about the facts of these cases."

Paxton released a statement saying:

"I look forward to putting this behind me. I want to thank my family, team and supporters for sticking by my side. Dealing with a 10-year case looming over our heads was no easy task. I am glad to move on and will provide further comment in the weeks ahead."

His attorney, Dan Cogdell, said the attorney general has not pleaded to anything in this case. 

"There is no admission of guilt; There will never be an admission of guilt because he's not guilty," said Cogdell.

Paxton to pay restitution, do community service, take ethics classes to avoid trial and have charges 02:29

Judge Andrea Beall said she was not part of this deal and that it was only between the prosecutors and Paxton's legal team.
She warned that if Paxton violates any terms of the agreement, he will face a very speedy trial.

Meanwhile, both Wice and Kent Schaffer have said the original judge in the case against Paxton promised them a fee of $300 an hour. 

But Collin County has fought that for years, saying it's too much money and not consistent with state rules. 

Schaffer left as special prosecutor about six weeks ago because the pay dispute is still tied up in the appeals court and he didn't want to commit to more work if there were no guarantee he would get paid.  

He told CBS News Texas that Collin County owes him about $210,000. 

Wice, the current special prosecutor said the county owes him about $250,000. 

They said they haven't been paid in eight years. 

"I will never do work for the state of Texas again unless I'm paid up-front, in advance," Schaffer told Fink Monday, before the deal was announced. "It is the most untrustworthy client I've had in 42 years."    

Watch the full interview with Schaffer below:

One-on-One with former Special State Prosecutor Kent Schaffer 09:39

As for Paxton, he is reportedly still under federal investigation after his former top lieutenants went to the FBI more than three years ago, making allegations of potential bribery against him. They were fired and some of them have filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the attorney general, which is making its way through the courts. Paxton has denied wrongdoing. 

One Step Closer

Republican newcomer Brandon Gill may have surprised a lot of people earlier this month when he defeated 10 other candidates to win the Republican primary out-right for the 26th Congressional District. 

The district is now represented by Dr. Michael Burgess, who's retiring at the end of the year after more than 20 years in Congress. It's a Republican-majority district and will likely remain that way in November. 

Fink recently sat down with Gill and asked him how he was able to avoid a runoff, as well as his priorities.

Watch that interview below:

One-on-One with Brandon Gill 11:29

New Mission

Retired Lt. Col. Allen West has a new mission. Dallas County Republicans elected him as their new GOP Chair earlier this month, and he will succeed Jennifer Stoddard Hajdu.

In a one-on-one with Fink, West discussed his concerns facing the local party, his priorities and a big jump he has planned to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Watch that discussion below: 

One-on-One with Dallas GOP Chair, Allen West 09:37

Every week, CBS News Texas political reporter Jack Fink breaks down some of the biggest political stories grabbing headlines in North Texas and beyond. Watch the latest episode of Eye on Politics in the video player above and watch new episodes every Sunday at 7:30 a.m. on air and online. 

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