Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who dedicated a significant amount of his seven-month tenure to denying gay people the right to marry, apparently doesn’t mind turning to a gay person for help — he’s hired a gay attorney to defend him on securities fraud charges he's currently facing in the Lone Star State.
Paxton Tuesday expanded his legal team to include Pete Schulte, a Dallas-based criminal defense attorney and former Democratic political candidate, Dallas–Fort Worth TV station WFAA reports. Schulte, who joins Joe Kendall in representing Paxton, came out in an interview with the Dallas Voice in 2010, during an unsuccessful campaign for state representative.
“I’ve never been in the closet, so to speak, personally,” he told interviewer John Wright, who cited the 2010 piece in a Towleroad story today. “When it was in the media, we just never talked about it. But now that it’s the general election and it’s a Democrat versus a Republican, either I bring it up or you know the Republicans will. I just want both sides to understand that I will be an advocate for all Texans in the district, including the GLBT community.”
On Towleroad, Wright notes that it’s unclear if Paxton knows that Schulte is gay. What is clear is Paxton’s antigay record as attorney general, an office he was elected to last November and assumed in January, when Greg Abbott, the previous AG, became Texas governor.
Before the U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality decision in June, Paxton tried hard to maintain Texas’s ban on same-sex marriage. After a lesbian couple wed in Texas in February, thanks to a judge’s emergency order — one of the women had ovarian cancer — Paxton sought to have their marriage declared invalid. He also succeeded in blocking, at least temporarily, federal family and medical leave benefits for Texas same-sex couples who had wed in other states. And he appeared at an anti–marriage equality rally in March with virulently antigay Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
After the Supreme Court struck down all remaining state marriage bans, Paxton called the decision a “lawless” one and encouraged county clerks to defy it if they have religious objections to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Paxton surrendered to authorities this month on the fraud charges, which relate to incidents that occurred in 2011, when he was a state representative. He is accused of advising investors to put money into a Dallas-area technology company without disclosing that he was receiving a commission for doing so. He was a lawyer and real estate adviser at the time. He is charged with two counts of securities fraud, each of which carries a sentence of five to 99 years in prison, and one count of failing to register as an investment adviser, a less serious charge.