AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Private text messages show lawmakers wanting to help Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton by potentially halting payments to prosecutors over his criminal case.

The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday that five Republican lawmakers exchanged messages last week about convincing a county judge to stop paying three special prosecutors.

The newspaper obtained the messages under open records laws. Paxton has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of duping investors in a tech startup and could go to trial as early as next year.

Taxpayers are footing the bill for Paxton’s prosecution, and a Tarrant County judge has ordered Collin County to pay prosecutors’ $300-an-hour fees.

The text messages were sent between state legislators Jodie Laubenberg, Jeff Leach, Scott Stanford, Matt Shaheen and Sen. Van Taylor.