Special Prosecutors Brian Wice [left] and Kent Schaffer enter the Collin County Courthouse during a hearing with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, in McKinney.
Photo credit: Jae S. Lee / The Dallas Morning News
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has argued that $ 300 an hour is too much to pay the two special attorneys appointed to take him to court on a longstanding securities fraud case – but this is this one Rate his agency pays last month hired inexperienced attorney Paxton to investigate a complaint from a political donor.
Paxton was charged in 2015 for soliciting investors without revealing that he needed compensation. However, he has kept his innocence and never went to court as his lawyers argue with prosecutors over jurisdiction issues and how much prosecutors should pay.
That second matter, still controversial in a Harris County court, came back to prosecute Paxton last week after it was revealed that he had hired Brandon Cammack, an inexperienced defense attorney, to handle a complaint from one of his political donors to investigate. Paxton personally paid Cammack $ 300 an hour – the exact rate promised to the two lawyers charged with bringing Paxton to justice, which have not been paid since 2016, as Paxton's political allies and defenders describe the figure as exorbitant.
Prosecutors Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer pointed out the irony in a spirited file on Friday before Harris District Judge Jason Luong, demanding that they be compensated on a par with Cammack, who they dismissed as an "untested and unqualified newbie" .
"If this hourly rate sounds familiar, it should be: It is exactly the rate that the Pro Tems promised when they were appointed," they wrote in a Friday registration. "If the defendant's decision to pay Cammack $ 300 an hour appears insincere, it is only because the defendant, in successfully derailing this prosecution by conducting a concerted effort to repay it, repeatedly down to the 300-hour hourly rate des Pro Tem has referred his records as unreasonable and unjustified. "
Wice and Schaffer, who told the court that they had 80 years of criminal justice experience, questioned why they shouldn't be entitled to the same amount as Cammack, “whose own experience, training and expertise compared to the pro Tems is practically microscopic. "
Paxton can "run but not hide" from his "concession that $ 300 an hour is reasonable," argued Wice and Schaffer.
Paxton hired Cammack to perform a Herculean task that many veteran attorneys described as bizarre and unprecedented: investigating allegations of wrongdoing by state and federal law enforcement agencies – allegations made by a Paxton donor, Austin real estate investor Nate Paul.
Paxton's oldest advisors said his hiring of Cammack violated all of the agency's protocols and that Paxton undermined the agency's power to serve the financial interests of a political donor.
Paxton has dismissed these top staff accusations as "false" accusations by "rogue employees".
Citing their policies, federal authorities have declined to confirm whether they are investigating Paxton.
The issue of paying prosecutors in the case of securities fraud against Paxton was raised by a Paxton donor, Jeff Blackard, in December 2015 when he described the fees as exorbitant. Since then, the problem has dragged its way through the courts for years, rising to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest criminal court.
Meanwhile, Wice and Schaffer haven't been paid in years, and the Collin County Commissioners Court, where Paxton has friends, tried to get back the first installment they were paid years ago.
Paxton's defense attorneys did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday.