Attorney General Ken Paxton has not disclosed a large chunk of his campaign donors from the past six months, a week after he was required to report them to the Texas Ethics Commission.
Paxton, who is in a hotly contested Republican primary, had until Jan. 18 to submit his latest campaign finance report, which covers July 1 through Dec. 31, 2021. His campaign filed it a day late, citing technical issues, and left $2.1 million in donations unitemized out of the $2.8 million total that he raised. Campaigns are required to itemize — or provide donor names and other identifying information — for any donations they receive online or any that exceed $90.
Paxton’s campaign said on the report that it would file an amended report to fix the issue, but it had not done so as of Tuesday, according to the TEC website. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Paxton faces primary challenges from Land Commissioner George P. Bush, former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler. All are saying he does not have the integrity to be the state’s top law enforcement official due to his own legal problems, which include a securities fraud indictment and an FBI investigation into claims he abused his office to aid a wealthy donor. He has denied wrongdoing in both cases.
"Ken Paxton has a track record of not following the rules and missing standard deadlines with the Texas Ethics Commission that every other candidate has adhered to," Guzman’s consultant, Justin Dudley, said in a statement. "Paxton continues to prove to the citizens of Texas he is unfit to be Attorney General."
It is not unheard of for a candidate to file a TEC report late by a number of days or make a mistake in reporting contributions that needs to be corrected by an amended report. But it is unusual for a candidate, a week after a deadline, to still not have disclosed information for such a large portion of their donors.
While not all of the $2.1 million in donations may have required itemization, it is likely that many did. The period included a fundraiser with former President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida where admission started at $1,000 per person.
Paxton’s $2.8 million haul was less than that of Guzman, who raised $3.7 million over the six-month period. Bush took in $1.9 million, while Gohmert, who did not enter the race until November, collected $1 million. Paxton still easily led the field in cash on hand, with a $7.5 million balance.
Paxton is not the only statewide candidate who ran into trouble with disclosing donors on the latest report. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke filed an amended report Monday, saying it was corrected to "report itemized contributions that were previously reported as unitemized."
O’Rourke’s amended report followed two TEC complaints over it that were filed by the campaign of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. One of them alleged that O’Rourke had failed to itemize at least $322,528.34 in online donations.
In a statement on the first complaint, Abbott spokesperson Mark Miner said it was "one more example on a long list of credibility issues plaguing [O’Rourke’s] campaign."
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/01/25/ken-paxton-texas-campaign-donations-2022/. The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.