Sick of Ken Paxton’s Crimes? Blame the Collin County Commissioners

August 5, 2023

Ken Paxton was in the news this week (is he ever out of it?) for a court appearance in Houston related to his indictments for securities fraud. These indictments are so old that you’d be excused for either forgetting or not even knowing about them. I mean, a regular person would’ve faced trial long before now but we’re not talking about a regular person, now are we? No, we’re talking about a Texas Republican politician. There are special rules for them, particularly if they, like Ken Paxton, got their start in Collin County and are protected by the Commissioner’s Court.

Some may ask, “What’s a commissioner’s court?”

Long-time readers of my column will know the answer to this question (at least, YOU’D BETTER!) but that’s one of the biggest questions I get whenever I talk about local politics. It’s a shame because the commissioner’s court – basically the city council of the county – significantly impacts our lives. Regular commissioner’s courts can do a lot of good but not us. Collin County’s commissioners are so backward that they’ve managed to not only damage Collin County (see below) but also hurt the entire state of Texas through their protection of Ken Paxton.

Before I get into that (Collin County has a LOT to answer for!), let me talk about some of the basic functions of the commissioner’s court. The 4 commissioners and a judge (the mayor):

  • adopt the county budget and tax rate
  • fill vacancies in appointive offices (like the person who oversees elections)
  • supervise the county courthouse (which is why they were sued along with DA Greg Willis in his sexual harassment case)
  • oversee the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges
  • supervise the sheriff’s office and detention center (the very one with numerous prisoner deaths and lawsuits)
  • provide healthcare for the county, especially for lower-income residents (if you don’t like that we don’t have a county hospital or adequate access to healthcare, blame them!)
  • offer public health services (our Covid response was a mess due to their incompetence)
  • provide an animal shelter (Collin’s is too small and overflowing)
  • staff and maintain county offices and facilities (we’re severely understaffed because no one wants to be underpaid and micromanaged).

I could go on (BELIEVE ME!) but you get the point. These 5 highly paid Republicans work hard to ensure that wealthy Collin residents get everything they want while turning a blind eye to what the rest of us need. One of my most fervent wishes is that Collin voters get their act together and vote these jokers out! Because if the above list of their incompetencies isn’t enough, their determination to protect Paxton’s criminality and greed has severely harmed not just Collin residents but all Texans.

If you’re like me and show the horned hand to ward off evil at any picture or mention of our Attorney General Ken Paxton (yes, the recently impeached one), you should know he’s gotten where he is due to the protection of the Collin County commissioners. Because he was able to run for Attorney General – which is like the fox guarding the hen house – Paxton’s been able to waste our taxpayer money by (among other things):

He was able to do all these money-wasting, soul-destroying activities because of Republican perfidy that goes back decades. Once Ken Paxton became a rising political star in the early 2000s, his shady business dealings skated by due to the corrupt nature of the Republican political machine in Collin County. Even his securities fraud case was going nowhere as his good buddy, Collin County DA Greg Willis – yep, the same guy from the sexual harassment suit – was going to let the statute of limitations run out. But then, lawyer Ty Clevenger (who sounds like a character!) got involved and goosed the grand jury into asking questions.

Soon Willis recused himself and it was deemed advisable for Paxton to be prosecuted by outside lawyers since the Collin County good ole boys were too cozy with him. It looks bad when people are seen doing political favors. Judge Scott Becker even ruled that the independent prosecutors should be paid $300/hour, which is significantly above the capped rate paid to lawyers defending indigent clients (which is ridiculously low). To this day, the Collin County commissioners still get into fights with lawyers over their payment for indigent cases. We wouldn’t want the poors to get above themselves with good legal representation. By the way, Becker lost his primary to an Empower Texans-backed candidate.

I won’t even start on how Prestonwood Baptist Church is involved in all of this corruption. Jesus would turn over the tables in their “temple”.

In 2015, Paxton was indicted by a Collin County grand jury on 3 charges of securities fraud. Team Paxton went crazy and attacked the judge, Chris Oldner, on the case. Although that tactic didn’t work (he immediately recused himself), it should be noted that Oldner is no longer a judge. Next, they went after the independent prosecutors. Seeing an opening to defend their guy, the Collin County commissioners squawked loudly. They paid their lawyers $375/hour to fight the independent prosecutors making $300/hour because their pay was too high. You can’t make this stuff up!

This set off nearly a decade of legal wrangling about payment and venue changes that led to numerous delays. One of the independent prosecutors (who haven’t been paid since 2016) places the blame for all this squarely on the Collin County Commissioners Court, calling them “incredibly clever and Machiavellian.” Knowing them as I do, I wouldn’t call them clever but scheming and unscrupulous definitely fits.

By allowing Paxton to escape justice (thus far), the commissioners are complicit in his misdeeds. It may now be catching up with him with his upcoming impeachment trial in the Texas Senate, an ongoing FBI investigation into alleged abuse of his office to help a campaign donor, a whistleblower settlement, and a suit by the disciplinary committee of the State Bar of Texas for his role in challenging the 2020 presidential election results. The commissioners need to be held to account too.

If we are to change things in Collin County, you must speak up! Call, write, email, and attend a commissioner’s court meeting. Let them know that the era of cronyism is over and you want change. Even better, run for a county commissioner position. It isn’t difficult. If you’re an 18-year-old registered voter who’s lived in Texas for a year and resides in the precinct, you too could run for a position that pays you around $140,000/year – a salary that’s 222% higher than the median salary in Collin County – for (from what I can tell) a minimal amount of work. Why not? Goodness knows you could hardly do worse than the current commissioners. At the very least, you wouldn’t be covering for a criminal.

Comments 4

  1. It’s always depressing to read a list of their malfeasance. *sigh* And it’s been going on for YEARS … all while they tout “Christian values. Thanks for pointing it out AGAIN.

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  2. Thank you for writing this! We talked about this in the 22 election- saying all of Texas is counting on collin county to vote out the current collin county judge and commissioners so that we could finally hold Paxton accountable. It should have been a big gotv motivator. The corrupt cadre all need to go. Clean sweep 🧹

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      Part of the problem is that people just don’t know. The other part is many of them don’t care. It’s infuriating. Thanks, as always, for being on top of all the political nonsense! You were the inspiration for me writing this.

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