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The Brief: Aug. 4, 2015

The indictment against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was out yesterday — and so was his mugshot.

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The Big Conversation

The indictment against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was out yesterday — and so was his mugshot.

Paxton, who faces felony fraud charges, turned himself in yesterday to be booked. The Tribune's Patrick Svitek runs through yesterday's developments:

Wearing a pin-striped suit and a red tie, he smiled slightly for his mugshot. Then, he was promptly released from the Collin County Jail on $35,000 bond, according to records with the local sheriff’s office. Afterward, he apparently slipped out of the courthouse undetected, avoiding the throng of waiting media and Democratic protesters.

Within minutes, Democrats and liberal groups began calling for his resignation. An indictment is not a finding of guilt, however, and Paxton has no obligation to step down. On Monday afternoon, Paxton's lawyer released a statement saying that he would plead not guilty and seek a trial by jury.

"He is looking forward to the opportunity to tell his side of the story" in court, said attorney Joe Kendall. "In the meantime, the Attorney General is returning to Austin to focus on his work on behalf of the citizens of Texas." 

Paxton faces three counts: two for securities fraud, and another for acting as an investment advisor or representative without registering.

The state's top Republicans offered some support for Paxton, but that support was more guarded compared to what former Gov. Rick Perry received after his indictment. Also in the Tribune, Terri Langford and Morgan Smith highlight the key players in Paxton's case.

The Houston Chronicle, meanwhile, looks ahead at the difficult political territory Paxton will face as he stays in office.

And Paxton had an unusual mugshot compared to others in Collin County because he "didn’t have a towel draped around his neck," according to a blog item in the Dallas Morning News, which noted that Collin County mugshots started including the towels to avoid bias based on clothing when witnesses go through photo lineups.

Trib Must-Reads

Buried Treasure: The State Budget Hides a Mystery, by Sophia Bollag — Lawmakers approved giving $200,000 to a community college that doesn't want it to fund a maritime museum that doesn't exist, and now the Legislative Budget Board may scuttle Gov. Greg Abbott's bid to reclaim the loot.

Grand Jury Selection to Become More Random, by Patrick Svitek — Texas is on the verge of overhauling the way it selects grand jurors, shifting away from an antiquated process that critics say creates the potential for conflicts of interest.

Cruz, Perry Warm Up For First Debate in N.H. Forum, by Patrick Svitek — The two White House hopefuls from Texas participated Monday night in the last major GOP forum before part of the 2016 field meets for its first official debate.

Barratry Charges Against Ron Reynolds Downgraded, by Sophia Bollag Felony charges against state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, were dropped Friday and replaced with misdemeanor charges.

Obama Unveils Climate Rules, With Texas-Wide Implications, by Jim Malewitz and Kiah Collier  President Obama on Monday unveiled the final version of his state-by-state effort to combat climate change by reshaping the nation’s energy sector – a plan that has roiled Republican leaders in Texas.

Former UT President Joins Law Firm, by Liz Crampton — Former University of Texas at Austin President William Powers has joined the law firm of Jackson Walker, according to the firm.

Texplainer: How Is a Statewide Office Vacancy Filled?, by Polo Rocha — The rules are a little different for how to complete the terms of statewide executive officials who leave office early.

Crownover Will Not Seek Re-Election to House, by Patrick Svitek — State Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, announced Monday she will not seek re-election in 2016.

Elsewhere

Texas AG Ken Paxton indictment: Witch hunt or justified charges?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Judges: Investment firm with ties to Paxton indictment misled clients, Houston Chronicle

Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush Shine at Koch Brothers Event, Bloomberg

Cruz reports book royalties topping $100,000, The Dallas Morning News

Ted Cruz’s book royalties may be higher than Scott Walker’s net worth, The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton scheduled to come to McAllen, The Monitor

New polls suggest Rick Perry out of debate, Politico

For first GOP debate, Rick Perry may be on the outside looking in, Austin American-Statesman

Republican effort to strip Planned Parenthood funding stalls in Senate, The Washington Post

Falling oil prices haven’t put brakes on Texas home costs, The Dallas Morning News

Cheaper beer and wine in Texas?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Quote to Note

"In Texas, we cook bacon a little differently than most folks."

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz cooks "machine-gun bacon" in a video on IJReview.com

News From Home

•      During the 84th legislative session, Texas lawmakers contemplated a consolidation of the state's health agencies and reforming end-of-life care. Learn about these issues and more with our Texas Legislative Guide.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•      The Texas Tribune's Trivia Night on Aug. 30 in Austin 

•      A Conversation with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor on Sept. 4 in Austin

•      A Conversation on The Road from Hurricane Rita on Sept. 22 in Beaumont

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

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