As an inquiry broadens into whether Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton violated securities law, a special prosecutor involved in the investigation indicated Thursday that he might have more time to pursue the issue than previously expected.
Some believe that the statute of limitations in the Paxton inquiry is up as early as this month. But special prosecutor Kent Schaffer said investigators are now looking into things beyond the original scope of their investigation. That might give the prosecutors more time.
"It encompasses things that would have a five-year statute of limitations, instead of three years," he said.
Schaffer and his partner in the case, Brian Wice, have been investigating Paxton since April, when they were appointed to replace Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis. Willis, a friend and business partner of Paxton's, stepped aside after asking the Texas Rangers to step in.
Their inquiry stems from an admission by Paxton last year that he solicited investment clients for a friend and business partner without properly registering with the state. He was fined $1,000 and reprimanded by the State Securities Board, but no criminal charges were brought.
After the reprimand was made public, the Travis County district attorney's office looked into the situation, but prosecutors there found that they lacked jurisdiction to prosecute. The case was then referred to Collin County, where Paxton lived at the time of the alleged violations.
Willis referred the case to the Texas Rangers on April 9. In a letter to the agency obtained by Dallas attorney Ty Clevenger and posted on Clevenger's website, Willis noted that "the conduct in question occurred in 2012 — therefore your agency should act promptly on this matter due to the general three-year statute of limitations for felony offenses."
But in May, the special prosecutors requested that a Collin County judge extend the scope of their inquiry, Schaffer said. That request, first reported by the Houston Chronicle, was granted on May 20.
Schaffer declined to comment on whether investigators have found new information, or what prompted the request.
"The original scope of the investigation had to do with incidents involved in the sale of securities while Mr. Paxton was not licensed to sell securities," Schaffer said.
He later added, "As [the Texas Rangers] continued to conduct their investigation, we became aware of more things that needed to be looked into."
A spokesman for Paxton declined to comment Thursday.