The Paxton prosecutors’ personal dispute

I’m just going to leave this here.

A crook any way you look

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton never would have been sent to prison if his fraud case had gone to trial, the prosecutors now say.

In the week since Paxton, a Republican, cut a deal to have his charges dropped and upcoming trial canceled, the two special prosecutors have traded barbs over how each handled the case. They’ve questioned each other’s choices, motives and even whether they’ve always been truthful with each other.

From indictment to deal, the case lasted nine years. The prosecutors entered the case as partners, longtime colleagues, even friends, and leave it as adversaries.

The one thing they do agree on: Neither thinks Paxton was going to end up behind bars.

During a Friday interview on WFAA, lead prosecutor Brian Wice was asked if prison was ever a likelihood if the case had gone to trial.

“The answer to your question is two words: absolutely never,” Wice said.

“I never envisioned any scenario, any universe in which, by which, through which, that a judge or jury put Ken Paxton in prison based on either the third-degree felony failing to register as an investment adviser rep, or, for that matter, the first-degree felony securities fraud cases,” he added.

In an interview with The Texas Newsroom, Wice’s former co-counsel agreed.

“That’s probably the one true thing that Brian [Wice] said,” said Kent Schaffer, who resigned from the prosecution in February after he and Wice split over how to handle the case.


Wice said he’d received a slew of hate messages from people who wanted to see Paxton answer to a jury. They questioned why a deal would be cut the month before Paxton was scheduled to go to trial — especially since the case had dragged on for as long as it did.

Schaffer, who was not part of the final negotiations, said it was “kind of stupid” that Paxton will do his community service in Collin County, where the attorney general has a home and practiced law for years. He believes Paxton will get more favorable treatment there.

“Anybody with an IQ over 60 understands Paxton’s never going to do one hour of community service,” Schaffer told The Texas Newsroom.

Cogdell said Paxton will “absolutely” comply with the terms of the deal.

Schaffer tried to cut a different deal with Paxton’s defense team before he stepped off the case. But Wice scuttled it, he said.

Then, on Feb. 16, the day Schaffer resigned from the case, Wice publicly criticized Schaffer’s deal as tantamount to giving Paxton “a cocktail, a hot meal and a breath mint” because he said it did not include restitution for the accusers.

Schaffer said his deal would have included restitution if Wice hadn’t cut off talks. Clapping back at his former partner, he told The Texas Newsroom that Wice’s deal is like giving Paxton “a cocktail and a hot meal and a backrub.”

He said Wice is unfairly criticizing his work on the case now to throw off scrutiny: “At this point, he’s just looking for somebody to get all the negative attention off him.”

In three pages of comments provided to The Texas Newsroom, Wice said Schaffer was the one unfairly criticizing him.

See here and here for some background. I don’t have much interest in litigating this – I have no idea who’s “right” and “wrong” in this Wice/Schaffer dispute – so I will just say two things. One is that Ken Paxton and his buddies did an awful lot to sabotage this case from the beginning, with the way that Collin County Commissioners Court refused to pay the special prosecutors being at the top of that list. In retrospect, it probably would have been for the best if this case could have been given to another county’s District Attorney for handling, as that would have largely settled the cost matter and left it up to people whose only job is to do prosecutions and didn’t have to worry about being properly compensated for it. And two, Ken Paxton is one lucky goddamn son of a bitch. A whole constellation of factors had to line up just right for him to end up without even having to plead guilty to something to get off like that, and they did. There’s a very small list of people who deserved that less than he did. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go light about a hundred candles for that grand jury in San Antonio.

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