The potential criminal case against Attorney General Ken Paxton is apparently growing more serious, with the state's top lawyer hiring heavyweight legal counsel of his own as special prosecutors prepare to take felony charges before a Collin County grand jury.
Late Wednesday, special prosecutor Kent Schaffer said he and co-counsel Brian Wice plan to start presenting evidence to the grand jury in less than a month that Paxton violated the Texas Securities Act.
"We'll be pursuing an indictment for first-degree felony securities fraud," Schaffer said, confirming a WFAA report.
Under state securities law, first-degree felony fraud entails amounts exceeding $100,000.
Paxton recently hired high-powered attorney Joe Kendall of Dallas, a former federal judge. Kendall is taking over for fellow Dallas lawyers Matt Orwig and Bob Webster, who have previously represented Paxton in securities matters.
Late Wednesday, Wice would only say he and Schaffer are "going to go wherever the evidence takes us." Wice has previously emphasized the two prosecutors have been charged with investigating "any and all" potential violations of the State Securities Act, including fraud.
Schaffer has previously indicated investigators had found something new while investigating Paxton's admission last year that he solicited investment clients for a friend and business partner without properly registering with the state. He was reprimanded and fined $1,000 by the State Securities Board.
In May, the special prosecutors won a request to expand the scope of the probe, and most signs pointed to them zeroing in on fraud.
Schaffer and Wice were appointed earlier this year after Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis, a Paxton friend and business partner, stepped aside. Before that, Willis had asked the Texas Rangers to look in to the allegations against Paxton.
Paxton's legal drama landed in Willis' territory after Travis County prosecutors declined last year to pursue charges against Paxton, referring the allegations to Collin and Dallas counties. Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk passed on a case.
A Paxton spokesman did not immediately return calls late Wednesday. Neither did Kendall, though people close to the situation confirmed his involvement.