It’s not dé·jà vu. The Texas attorney general is in trouble again. Seven of Ken Paxton’s top aides filed a whistleblower complaint against their boss alleging that he is violating federal and/or state law relating to improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses.
The letter said that each signatory has knowledge of facts relevant to these allegations and that they have made statements to law enforcement. “We, the undersigned individuals, reported to an appropriate law enforcement authority a potential violation of law committed by Warren K. Paxton, Jr., in his official capacity, as the current Attorney General of Texas.”
The letter was originally obtained by the Austin American-Statesman
The complaint included the signature of Paxton’s first assistant, Jeff Mateer, who resigned after making the allegations.
Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick both said in a statement the allegations were concerning, but they are waiting for an investigation before commenting further.
The members of Paxton’s staff did not reveal specific details about their allegations. However, in the attorney general’s statement, he indicated the complaint was tied to an investigation into the business dealings of Nate Paul, a real estate developer and a contributor to Paxton’s campaign.
Additionally, in a text message obtained by KVUE, Paxton's executive team said, “Each of the individuals on this text chain made a good faith report of violations of the law by you to an appropriate law enforcement authority concerning your relationship and activities with Nate Paul."
Paul could not be reached for comment.
Dallas City Councilman Casey Thomas said in a statement on social media that he thinks Paxton should resign until an investigation is resolved. Thomas did not respond for further comment.
Chip Roy, the U.S. representative who is Paxton's former chief deputy, also called for the attorney general’s resignation in a public statement. “The Attorney General deserves his days in court, but the people of Texas deserve a fully functioning AG’s office,” Roy said.
Several elected officials in Texas, including Roy, Patrick, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar and Land Commissioner George P. Bush, received campaign contributions from Paul. These individuals have said they plan on returning the contributions or making donations in the same amount to charity, according to The Texas Tribune
But Paxton is maintaining his innocence. In a statement, Paxton called his aides who filed the complaint “rogue employees” and said that their allegations were false. He added that he will not be resigning and he quickly appointed Brent Webster as Mateer’s replacement, Paxton’s office said in a statement.
For the last 10 years, Webster has served as a prosecutor in Texas and was the first assistant district attorney in Williamson County, the statement said.
Paxton said a case from Travis County was referred to his office regarding criminal allegations against Paul. “Because employees from my office impeded the investigation and because I know Nate Paul I ultimately decided to hire an outside independent prosecutor to make his own independent determination,” the attorney general said.
Paul, the founder, president and CEO of the real estate company World Class Holdings Group, donated $25,000 to Paxton’s campaign in 2018, according to The Texas Tribune.
In August last year, the FBI went unannounced to Paul’s home and several of his properties, according to Forbes
. The FBI wouldn’t say what they were looking for during its raid, but agents were seen leaving World Class’ offices with documents at the time.
The real estate developer’s company has offices and business dealings in Dallas. In 2014, World Class bought the 34-story KPMG Centre at 717 Harwood and has several other properties in the area. Additionally, at least as of 2018, the company was on Downtown Dallas Inc.’s board of governors.
A representative with DDI did not respond for comment about their relationship with the company.
Since the FBI raid on Paul’s properties, several of his company’s real estate entities have filed for bankruptcy. The Harwood tower was posted for forclosure before JPMorgan Chase swept in with a new $59 million loan, according to The Dallas Morning News
Around the same time, Paul and his company were sued by a Dallas family trust that had invested $1.5 million into a property in Uptown. The suit alleged the property was sold without their knowledge. The family trust wanted to get its investment back, but the lawsuit was later dropped.
This year marks five years since Paxton was indicted on unrelated felony securities fraud charges
for allegedly encouraging investors to put more than $600,000 into a McKinney technology company.