Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been accused by his deputies of bribery.
A whistleblower letter signed by all seven and sent to the agency’s human resources department accused Paxton of bribery, abuse of power and other potential crimes. The letter sent last week, was obtained by KVUE and Austin American Statesman reporter Tony Plohetski.
“These are not low-level employees,” Plohetski told the Texas Standard. “It was striking not only because of their ranks and their titles within the agency, but this is also them turning on their boss and saying, ‘We believe the attorney general has been carrying out a number of different possible crimes.’”
The letter did not go into details about the allegations. But a text message between the deputies and Paxton indicates it involves the attorney general’s relationship with one of his political donors: Austin-based businessman Nate Paul.
FBI agents raided Paul’s offices last year. He has never been charged with a crime.
“We’re still learning more about the relationship between Nate Paul and Ken Paxton,” Plohetski said. “But what we know is that Ken Paxton appears to have hired a special prosecutor out of Houston, a fairly young attorney who specializes in defense work in Houston to conduct an investigation about whether the FBI may have violated federal law on the raid of Nate Paul’s home and businesses last year.”
Paxton issued a statement over the weekend that claims the deputies’ complaint was filed to “impede” an investigation into employees at the state attorney general’s office. It also stated: ‘Making false claims is a very serious matter and we plan to investigate this to the fullest extent of the law.”
This deputies’ accusation against Paxton is the latest a series of legal clouds involving Texas top lawyer.
Five years ago, Paxton was indicted for securities fraud allegations. His defense team has so far delayed the trial’s start while he is in office.
Then, in 2016, an anonymous employee accused Paxton of accepting money for his criminal defense fund from a CEO whose company was being investigated by Paxton’s agency. Paxton claimed the donors were friends outside of his position as attorney generation. A special prosecutor agreed and declined to file charges.
Both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have found the allegations concerning, but in statements say they are withholding any other comment.
Plohetski noted that the statements from the top two leaders in Texas seem to distance themselves from Paxton.