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(CBS11) – A former Republican presidential candidate calls the criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton a political smear campaign from within his own party.

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Former Pennsylvania senator and 2016 presidential primary candidate Rick Santorum is calling for the securities fraud case against Paxton to be dropped.

Santorum told CBS 11’s J.D. Miles that he believes establishment Republicans are upset that the Tea Party-backed candidate Paxton won the election and manufactured the charges against him.

Paxton is accused of not disclosing his connection to a McKinney business in an investment deal four years ago.

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Santorum says taxpayers are funding a political witch hunt.

“I have to believe this may be the worst of any of them this is a case that is pure political vendetta against a politician on the part of politicians in Collin County,” says Santorum.

Collin County taxpayers have already paid more than $450,000 to special prosecutors in the case which still hasn’t gone to trial.

Earlier this week a judge ordered an emergency stay on those payments because of complaints that they are illegal.

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