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The Brief: Aug. 28, 2015

Paxton's most recent lead counsel cites differences "that adversely affect the attorney client relationship."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton pleaded not guilty to felony charges in court in Fort Worth on Aug. 27.

The Big Conversation

Attorney General Ken Paxton was in Fort Worth on Thursday to make an initial court appearance in his financial fraud case.

Paxton made the expected not guilty plea to the three felony charges against him, but his lead counsel also made news by announcing that he was quitting.

According to the Tribune's Morgan Smith, attorney Joe Kendall was vague in his reasons for leaving Paxton's legal team, referring in a motion with the court to “differences have arisen that adversely affect the attorney client relationship making continued representation untenable."

Paxton told the judge he expected to have new counsel within a week.

Special prosecutors in the case advised the judge that Paxton was on his third lawyer in three months and that they were watching carefully to make sure the changes in legal representation don't amount to a stalling tactic.

The Houston Chronicle's Lauren McGaughy talked to experts who described the changes in Paxton's legal representation as "unexpected and unusual."

Sandra Guerra Thompson of the University of Houston Law Center told McGaughy that "these 'differences' could be personality rifts, disagreements over strategy or a conflict of interest, or something else. 'There are so many different reasons that it's impossible to really say.'"

Trib Must-Reads

Massive Bankruptcy Tests Texas Utility Regulators, by Jim Malewitz — In coming months, the Public Utility Commission is expected to weigh in on an unprecedented plan to help Texas' largest power company emerge from bankruptcy, with huge implications for the electric grid and Texas ratepayers. Along with the financial world, consumer advocates will be watching closely.

Judge: UT Confederate Statue Can Be Removed, by Matthew Watkins — The statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis at the University of Texas at Austin will soon be taken down. Its removal was cleared Thursday by a state district judge, who threw out a challenge filed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans seeking to block UT-Austin’s plan to remove the sculpture.

Today's 31 Days, 31 Ways Story

New Law Aims to Reduce "Rolling Voting", by Patrick Svitek — A soon-to-be law takes aim at "rolling voting," the practice of moving voting machines around more than usual during certain elections.

Elsewhere

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump to hold anti-Iran deal rally in D.C., Politico

Boehner Calls Cruz A 'Jackass' At Fundraiser, The Daily Caller

Ron Kirk, Former Cabinet Official, Says He'd Donate to a Biden Run, Bloomberg

Planned Parenthood alleges 'smear' in letter to Congress, The Associated Press

Judge rules Obama administration water rule should be halted, The Associated Press

Two lawyers banned from detention center, San Antonio Express-News

Bailey discusses challenges, hopes for UTRGV, The Monitor

State Sen. Rodríguez announces re-election kickoff, El Paso Times

Quote to Note

“To build coalitions to work together in Washington, D.C., you don’t start it out by calling your colleague a ‘jackass.'”

— An unidentified attendee at a Steamboat Springs, Colo., fundraiser where, according to The Daily Caller, House Speaker John Boehner referred to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as "that jackass."

News From Home

•     The latest episode of The Ticket, a co-production of the Tribune and KUT is out. The Tribune's Jay Root and KUT's Ben Philpott dive into the billions of dollars flowing through our campaign finance system.

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

•    The Ticket: A Live Recording and GOP Primary Debate Watch Party on Sept. 16 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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