Morgan Smith Reporter

Morgan Smith reports on politics and education for the Tribune, which she joined in November 2009. She writes about the effects of the state budget, school finance reform, accountability and testing in Texas public schools. Her political coverage has included congressional and legislative races, as well as Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign, which she followed to Iowa and New Hampshire. In 2013, she received a National Education Writers Association award for "Death of a District," a series on school closures. After earning a bachelor's degree in English from Wellesley College, she moved to Austin in 2008 to enter law school at the University of Texas. A San Antonio native, her work has also appeared in Slate, where she spent a year as an editorial intern in Washington D.C.

Recent Contributions

Paxton Pleads Not Guilty; Lawyer Quits Case

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton arrives at court in Fort Worth to plead not guilty to felony charges.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton arrives at court in Fort Worth to plead not guilty to felony charges.

Attorney General Ken Paxton's first courtroom appearance as a criminal defendant was a 30-minute affair during which Paxton's lead lawyer quit for unspecified reasons, the attorney general insisted no cameras be allowed at his trial and the judge admonished everyone to limit public statements about the case.

A Guide to the Legal Players in the Paxton Case

Top, left to right: Special Prosecutor Brian Wice, Paxton Attorney Joe Kendall. Bottom, left to right: Judge George Gallagher; Special Prosecutor Kent Schaffer.
Top, left to right: Special Prosecutor Brian Wice, Paxton Attorney Joe Kendall. Bottom, left to right: Judge George Gallagher; Special Prosecutor Kent Schaffer.

As allegations that Ken Paxton improperly steered people into investments while failing to disclose his own financial involvement take the spotlight, so have a series of legal heavyweights on both sides of the case.

 

 

In Bastrop, Jade Helm Begins With a Whimper

Operation Jade Helm 15, a military training exercise, begins Wednesday in 12 Texas counties: Bastrop, Burleson, Brazos, Edwards, Howard, Hudspeth, Kimble, Martin, Marion, Real, Schleicher and Tom Green. It will also take place at Camp Bullis in San Antonio and Camp Swift in Bastrop County.
Operation Jade Helm 15, a military training exercise, begins Wednesday in 12 Texas counties: Bastrop, Burleson, Brazos, Edwards, Howard, Hudspeth, Kimble, Martin, Marion, Real, Schleicher and Tom Green. It will also take place at Camp Bullis in San Antonio and Camp Swift in Bastrop County.

The predictions included martial law, mass citizen roundups and widespread gun seizures. So what really happened as Jade Helm 15 started Wednesday in Bastrop County was pretty damn boring.

Paxton an Investor in Company Under SEC Probe

TX Attorney General Ken Paxton, speaks to media following remarks at event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation regarding impact of the EPA's Clean Power Plan on June 22, 2015
TX Attorney General Ken Paxton, speaks to media following remarks at event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation regarding impact of the EPA's Clean Power Plan on June 22, 2015

The name of Attorney General Ken Paxton, already facing a potential indictment by the state for first-degree felony securities fraud, has surfaced in a federal probe of a company in which he is an investor.

Despite Legal Woes, Paxton Emerges as Culture Warrior

TX Attorney General Ken Paxton, speaks to media following remarks at event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation regarding impact of the EPA's Clean Power Plan on June 22, 2015
TX Attorney General Ken Paxton, speaks to media following remarks at event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation regarding impact of the EPA's Clean Power Plan on June 22, 2015

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, under scrutiny for his financial dealings, stayed out of sight and coasted into office last fall as part of the new Republican leadership. Now his legal troubles are back, just as he's emerging as the hero for social conservatives who fueled his candidacy.