- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made his first campaign appearance late Thursday since being indicted on securities fraud charges, but only vaguely alluded to his legal troubles while addressing about 800 cheering supporters at a tea party rally.

The Republican was joined at the Houston gathering by presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, though the pair gave separate addresses and didn’t share a stage.

While Paxton was still a candidate, Cruz praised him as a conservative warrior. Both men rely heavily on conservative grassroots support, like the kind flowing freely at Thursday night’s rally.

Gov. Greg Abbott and other top Texas Republicans, meanwhile, haven’t publicly rallied behind Paxton.

In an address that lasted about 10 minutes, Paxton thanked the crowded for its support and prayers amid “all the issues that are going on.”



“God bless you all,” he said.

The attorney general also talked about legal challenges Texas is facing, including his office’s staunch opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage and its defense of a strict state law requiring voters to show picture IDs at the polls that opponents have challenged in federal court.

Paxton also saluted the crowd for “caring about the right things, for fighting for liberty and for actually believing the Constitution matters.”

When he finished, the crowd at the community center in Houston’s Kingwood area gave him a standing ovation.

Paxton pleaded not guilty last week to two counts of securities fraud over allegations that he deceived investors in a tech startup that compensated him for recruiting new shareholders. The alleged deception happened in 2011, before Paxton became attorney general in January.

Other than appearing in court and before a recent legislative committee, Paxton has been seen in public rarely as his case unfolds. He’s repeatedly ducked the news media.

Paxton’s supporters say he’s the victim of a conspiracy, while Texas Democrats have decried the state’s chief lawyer as seeking special treatment.

Paxton’s attorney, former federal judge Joe Kendall, unexpectedly announced during the attorney general’s first court appearance last week that he would no longer represent Paxton. The trial judge gave Paxton one week to find new counsel, but extended the deadline by another week Thursday.

Paxton is one of two state attorneys general in the U.S. who are staying in office while fighting criminal charges. Pennsylvania Democrat Kathleen Kane is accused of leaking grand jury information.

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