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The Brief: July 2, 2015

A special prosecutor said Wednesday that he's bringing evidence to a grand jury to get first-degree felony fraud charges against Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton spoke on June 22, 2105, at an event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation discussing the impact of the EPA's Clean Power Plan.

The Big Conversation

Special prosecutors are planning to bring felony fraud charges before a grand jury against Attorney General Ken Paxton, who's hired a former federal judge to represent him.

Special prosecutor Kent Schaffer said Wednesday that he and co-counsel Brian Wice are "pursuing an indictment for first-degree felony securities fraud."

The Tribune's Patrick Svitek has more on the potential criminal case:

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.

Paxton, meanwhile, has hired attorney and former federal judge Joe Kendall. Neither Kendall nor a spokesman for Paxton returned calls late Wednesday.

Trib Must-Reads

Map: Find Texas' Remaining Abortion Facilities, by Becca Aaronson — The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Monday to temporarily lift Texas' strict regulations on abortion providers means at least 10 clinics that do not meet those standards may continue to perform the procedure.

Few Options for Gay Couples in State Marriage Classes, by Aman Batheja and Sophia Bollag — Many of the providers in a state program that gives engaged Texans a discount on a marriage license if they take a premarital counseling course do not plan to open up the classes to same-sex couples.

Video: Supreme Court Rulings and Their Texas Impact, by Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn — A number of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions profoundly impact Texans’ way of life — whether you think the justices got it right or not. The state’s outsized role in constitutional law is nothing new, one law professor says.

Analysis: Retention Elections for Supreme Court?, by Ross Ramsey — Reacting to last week's rulings on gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act, presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz suggested holding retention elections that could knock Supreme Court justices off the bench. Sounds good, right?

Second Super PAC Backing Perry in Presidential Race, by Patrick Svitek — A second super PAC is now supporting Rick Perry's campaign for the White House. The new group, titled "Opportunity and Freedom I," joins the Opportunity and Freedom PAC in an effort to boost the former governor's presidential bid.

Texas Primary Voters to Get More Say in 2016 Than Planned, by Patrick Svitek — The Texas Democratic and Republican parties are finalizing plans to allocate all their national convention delegates on presidential primary day in 2016. For the Democrats, it's a break from tradition, and for the Republicans, it's a return to normal.

Castro Accuses Abbott Of 'Pay To Play' Politics, by Jay Root — In a letter, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro says an email exchange between Gov. Greg Abbott and Texans for Lawsuit Reform about pending insurance legislation raises ethical and legal questions about the governor's behavior. 

Texas Concedes Legal Challenge to Same-Sex Marriage Ban, by Alexa Ura — In light of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Friday, the Texas attorney general's office conceded a separate legal challenge to the state's ban on same-sex marriage. A federal appeals court then affirmed a lower court's ruling that overturned the state's ban. 

Video: An Animated Look Back at the 84th Session, by Todd Wiseman — Now that the dust has cleared on the 2015 legislative session, it's time to take a look at what exactly Texas lawmakers did during their 140 days under the dome. Of the thousands of bills filed, just a fraction survived the legislative process — and the governor's veto pen.


Monuments to Confederacy have their own history at Texas Capitol, Houston Chronicle

Texas DPS will keep pushing for expanded fingerprinting, The Dallas Morning News

Appeals court reaffirms gay marriage ruling, Houston Chronicle

President Obama overtime rule could raise wages for 5 million, Politico

As Obama, Castro thaw relations, many Cubans coming across Texas border, Houston Chronicle

Hotel outlook positive, but oil downturn tests demand, Houston Chronicle

Biker challenges judge's gag order in criminal case, The Associated Press

State approves withholding of reservoirs’ water for farmers for 2015, Austin American-Statesman

Texas State Aquarium $9M grant from Legislature tops all others, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

San Antonio student fighting school name, tradition, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"This is just throwing the Castro brothers a lifeline."

— Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on President Barack Obama's efforts to renew diplomatic relations with Cuba, saying it fits Obama's pattern of "not being able to connect the dots often."

Today in TribTalk

The disconnect between Texans and their elected officials, by Stephen Klineberg — Texans and their elected officials lawmakers aren’t seeing eye to eye. That’s not so surprising, given the state of our democracy.

News From Home

•    If you missed the event, here's the full video of Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith's conversation about Houston and the 84th legislative session with state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, and state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston.

•    On this week's TribCast, Emily Ramshaw talks with Ross Ramsey, Patrick Svitek and Alexa Ura about the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage and abortion, Ted Cruz's new memoir and his ongoing spat with Karl Rove

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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