Paxton Joins Long List of Texas Politicians Who Have Been Indicted

by | August 3, 2015

By Bobby Blanchard

When Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted on three felony charges alleging securities law violations last week, he joined a long list of Texas politicians who have faced indictments.

Some were found guilty. Many others were acquitted. One fled to the Caribbean. Check out the list below:

Gov. E.J. Davis, 1872

A governor during the Reconstruction era, Davis was indicted on charges of "unlawfully and feloniously [making] a false ... statement" of an election's outcome, according to the Handbook of Texas Online. A Democrat had beaten a Republican for election by a small margin of 135 votes. Davis called the election outcome a fraud, and a state board invalidated votes in two counties because of reports of violence against Republicans. The state board also rejected votes from three other counties.

Though Davis was indicted, a federal circuit court found him not guilty.

Gov. James Ferguson, 1917

After vetoing appropriations to the University of Texas at Austin, Ferguson was indicted on nine charges. Ferguson had vetoed the funds because the university refused to fire several faculty members who had opposed him, including a former opponent in the Democratic primary. Eventually he was removed from office but not from the political arena. He would later run for both president and the U.S. Senate. He returned to the Governor's Mansion in 1925, when his wife was elected the first female governor of Texas.

State Land Commissioner Bascom Giles, 1955

Giles was indicted and eventually convicted of fraud and bribery. In 1946, he had created the Texas Veterans Land Board, a program for World War II veterans. Veterans could buy land and pay the balance later. But a journalist later discovered veterans were not aware they were purchasing land -- many thought they were getting it free.

Giles served three years in prison.

House Speaker Gus Mutscher, 1971

Mutscher was indicted and found guilty of accepting a bribe to pass legislation. He was part of the infamous Sharpstown stock-fraud scandal. Though he was sentenced to five years' probation, he was later cleared by an appeal.

State Rep. Tommy Shannon, 1971

Like Mutscher, Shannon was indicted and convicted on charges of accepting bribes to pass legislation during the Sharpstown scandal.

Gov. John Connally, 1974

Connally, who was no longer Texas governor at the time, was indicted on a charge of accepting a $10,000 bribe to influence milk prices. With prominent and powerful character witnesses during his trial, Connally was acquitted in 1975.

State Supreme Court Justice Don Yarbrough, 1977

Yarbrough's stint as a Supreme Court justice was brief. He was sworn into office in 1977, but he resigned later that year facing indictment on charges of forgery and perjury. He eventually was found guilty, but he had fled to the Caribbean with his family. He was later arrested and returned to the United States, where he served a five-year sentence.

State House Speaker Bill Clayton, 1980

During an FBI sting operation called Brilab, Clayton was indicted and accused of taking money in exchange for votes. Clayton had not filed reports saying he had received the money, though he said later that that was because he was planning to return it. He was acquitted and won another term as House speaker.

State Treasurer Warren G. Harding, 1982

Harding was indicted on two felony counts of official misconduct. In 1982, a grand jury charged that state employees did campaign work for the state treasurer. Though he initially said the charges were "purely political," he eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

Attorney General Jim Mattox, 1983

Jim Mattox was indicted on a commercial bribery charge in 1983 for threatening a law firm's bond business in a case involving his sister. Mattox did not deny the threat but claimed a different interpretation of commercial bribery. He was acquitted in 1985.

State House Speaker Gib Lewis, 1990

Lewis pleaded no contest to charges that he illegally accepted a gift from a San Antonio law firm. He paid $2,000 and agreed not to seek re-election.

State Treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchison, 1993

Hutchison was indicted on charges of "official misconduct and records tampering" as state treasurer. She had been indicted twice previously, but those charges were thrown out. In her third indictment, documents and tapes were seized from her office -- but they were obtained without a warrant, and a judge did not allow their use in the case. She was acquitted and served two decades as a U.S. senator.

Lane Denton and state Rep. Betty Denton, 1995

The Dentons were indicted in the same year. Lane Denton was accused of stealing funds from the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association, which he oversaw after his stint as a state lawmaker. He eventually paid $67,000 in restitution and was sentenced to six years' probation. His wife was accused of lying on her campaign finance reports. She also received six years' probation, and had to pay a $2,000 fine.

Attorney General Dan Morales, 2003

Dan Morales, by then out of office, was accused in 2003 of trying to steer millions in unearned legal fees to a friend. He eventually pleaded guilty to lying on his tax return and mail fraud. He was sentenced to four years but was released to a halfway house in 2006.

State Rep. Terri Hodge, 2007

The Dallas Democrat, who was facing a massive 31-count indictment, pleaded guilty in 2010 to fraud and lying on her income tax return. She resigned from her seat, agreed never to seek public office again, and was sentenced to a year in prison.

State Rep. Kino Flores, 2009

The South Texas legislator, who allegedly would demand 10 percent of the profits companies made from the contracts he did with them, was indicted on charges of not properly disclosing his income on financial disclosure forms. He was sentenced to five years' probation.

Gov. Rick Perry, 2014

Perry, who is currently seeking the Republican presidential nomination, was indicted on charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. The second charge has since been ruled unconstitutional. Perry has pleaded not guilty, and the case is continuing.

The indictment relates to Perry's threat to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned after her drunken-driving conviction.

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