DALLAS — Two additional special prosecutors have been appointed to look into other allegations of criminal misconduct involving Attorney General Ken Paxton, News 8 has learned.
The two Fort Worth attorneys – Miles Brissette and former state district Judge Bob Gill – were appointed Nov. 13 to investigate "criminal allegations" involving Paxton and others, according to filings obtained by News 8. The filings do not state who the "others" are.
News 8 has learned that the new grand jury investigation is taking a /look at a 2004 land deal involving Paxton and other investors. That land would later become the site of the Collin Central Appraisal District.
Brissette and Gill were appointed by Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher, who was appointed to oversee the criminal cases already pending against Paxton.
Brissette and Gill both declined to comment, citing rule of ethics that prevent them from doing so. Gallagher's court coordinator said he could not discuss an ongoing grand jury investigation.
Paxton has previously denied any wrongdoing in connection with the land deal, which occurred more than a decade ago.
"We have cooperated fully with these attorneys and are convinced that they will find no wrongdoing on the part of Gen. Paxton or anyone in the ultimate sale of the property to the Collin County appraisal district," Bill Mateja, an attorney representing Paxton. "We understand these attorneys were appointed after a Collin County resident asked the district attorney's office to investigate the sale of property to the Colin County Appraisal District."
Paxton and Greg Willis, now Collin County's district attorney, were part of a group of limited partners in the company that purchased the land in 2004. The land was sold to a Dallas developer about a year and half later.
Mateja said Paxton, as a limited partner, had no role in the sale of the property to the Dallas developer, "which is typical of the role of a limited partner."
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"While they may be referred to as special prosecutors, they are merely investigating whether anyone engaged in improper conduct in connection with the sale of the property," Mateja said.
The appointment of Brissette and Gill came after Ty Clevenger, a Collin County lawyer and blogger, raised questions about the land deal involving the site where the appraisal district was later built.
"The value of the property increased dramatically," he told News 8 this past summer. "It appears there was some kind of insider information."
Clevenger has previously sent letters to a Collin County grand jury asking that they investigate the land deal. He's also alleged that Willis stymied the investigation of Paxton, his one-time friend and business associate.
The Lone Star Project, a liberal interest group, also sent a complaint this past summer to the grand jury, as well as with U.S. Attorneys' Office in the Eastern District, over the land deal.
Willis' office recused itself from the criminal investigation of Paxton's investment dealings this past spring. That triggered the appointment of the original two special prosecutors.
Paxton is currently under indictment for two first-degree counts of securities fraud and count of failing to register as an investment advisor. He has denied any wrongdoing. Two other special prosecutors – Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer – are heading up that investigation.
Wice, Schaffer and a third special prosecutor are being paid $300 an hour for their work. They have already turned in legal bills in excess of $250,000, with more to come.
Collin County Judge Keith Self has accused Wice and Schaffer of fleecing the county. He called on them to resign earlier this week.
Self didn't know about the appointment of Gill and Brissette until contacted by the News 8. He considers the situation a budget-busting headache.
"We had no say on the fees," he said. "We had no say on the special prosecutors. At this point, this is getting really close to judicial tyranny against the taxpayers of Collin County. The whole system is walled off from the taxpayers of Collin County."
Self says he doesn't understand why prosecutors working for other counties in the region couldn't' have been appointed to save taxpayer dollars.
"I believe the taxpayers who are going to be paying," he said. ""Both side want justice, but how much it this going to cost?"