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Ken Paxton’s Office … Clears Ken Paxton of Any Wrongdoing

A report issued by Texas AG Ken Paxton's office says Texas AG Ken Paxton did not break the law.
A report issued by Texas AG Ken Paxton's office says Texas AG Ken Paxton did not break the law. Gabriel Aponte / Getty Images
When Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was running for reelection in 2018, Austin-based real estate developer Nate Paul contributed $25,000 to his campaign. Around a year later, he helped Paxton remodel his house, and hired a woman with whom Paxton allegedly had an extramarital affair as a project manager at one of his companies.

Well before news broke of the woman’s hiring last November, though, Paxton’s top aides had reportedly become alarmed by the attorney general’s repeated involvement in Paul’s ongoing legal matters.

In July 2020, Paxton told staffers he intended to appear in court in person to insist that a pending lawsuit against Paul’s development businesses be paused.

Just two months earlier, Paxton took a personal interest in a dispute over a public records request for Texas Department of Public Safety communications involving Paul, then-staffers told the Dallas Morning News. The matter reached Paxton’s office after DPS refused to release the records.

While the AG’s office is tasked with settling quarrels over public records, it’s unusual for the AG to personally involve themselves in specific cases, a then staffer told the Morning News. Paxton eventually deferred the case to the courts, where it then sat motionless for months.

Paxton then appeared to insert himself on Paul’s behalf in a legal battle between one of Paul’s companies and an Austin nonprofit. A few weeks later, he pushed staff to speed up the publication of a legal opinion that helped Paul avoid foreclosure sales on a slew of his Austin properties, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

All the while, staffers allege, Paxton was helping Paul undermine authorities’ investigations into Paul’s business dealings.

Ultimately, Paxton fired three of the staffers who reported Paxton’s alleged crimes to law enforcement. Aides filed a lawsuit in November alleging he abused his office to help Paul and retaliated against them for blowing the whistle.

But Texans can breathe easy. The state’s top cop isn’t guilty of criminal corruption and abuse of his office’s power after all — just read the Tuesday report issued by the office of the state’s top cop.

The 374-page report, which bears no named authors nor any signatures, states that Paxton never broke the law in any of his actions pertaining to Paul’s legal disputes.

Ex-staffers also failed to provide “evidence of a bribe, and likewise the investigation otherwise uncovered no evidence of a quid pro quo relationship between Paul and AG Paxton,” according to the report.

Sure, Paxton was directly involved in legal matters involving Paul, but no evidence of a conflict of interest between Paxton and these matters exists, according to the report.

Paxton’s office did not respond to inquiries about why they did not assign people outside his office to investigate alleged conflicts of interest taking place inside it.

The report comes as Paxton faces down a challenge from within his own party in the 2022 AG’s race. Meanwhile the FBI is investigating staffers’ claims, and the wait for a trial in the criminal fraud case against Paxton enters its seventh year this month.
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Michael Murney is a staff writer at the Dallas Observer and a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. His reporting has appeared in Chicago’s South Side Weekly and the Chicago Reader.
Contact: Michael Murney