Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton may be the state’s top law enforcement official, but he’s currently facing several legal challenges of his own. A new lawsuit filed by former employees says he retaliated against them after they accused him of using his office to help a campaign donor and friend.
The lawsuit was filed under the Texas Whistleblower Act in a Travis County district court late last week. It also provides one of the clearest pictures yet of recent abuse-of-office allegations against Paxton.
Tony Plohetski has been reporting on this for the Austin American-Statesman. He told Texas Standard that seven high-ranking employees in the attorney general’s office complained in October about what they said was Paxton’s use of bribery and abuse of his office on behalf of campaign donor Nate Paul. The employees took their claims to the FBI, and the claims subsequently became public.
“What they contend is that in the weeks after coming forward – blowing the whistle – that they faced intimidation, a hostile workplace,” Plohetski said. “And so they filed this lawsuit under the states Whistleblower Act.”
Plohetski said there is likely an ongoing investigation of Paul’s business activities. His offices were raided by the FBI last year.
“Nate Paul believes that the FBI took inappropriate action during the search of his property, that they violated his constitutional rights,” Plohetski said. “So he brought a complaint forward that ultimately made its way to the AG’s office.”
The complaining former employees say Paxton worked on behalf of Paul.
Paul gave $25,000 to Paxton’s reelection campaign. Paxton is also alleged to have had an extramarital affair with a woman employed by Paul.
“And so, according to these whistleblowers, they believe that is evidence of some sort of potential quid pro quo,” Plohetski said. “Some sort of relationship between Nate Paul and Ken Paxton that goes even further than friendship or a campaign donation.”
Plohetski says Paxton has accused the employees who filed the lawsuit of not doing their job, that they should have been investigating Paul’s claim against the FBI and that there were other legal and personnel issues related to the employees.