Nate Paul, the man at the center of currently suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment, was booked into the Travis County jail Thursday afternoon.
An eight-count felony indictment by a federal grand jury, unsealed Friday morning, alleges that Paul lied about his financial situation and falsified documents to obtain millions of dollars in loans that he would not otherwise have received.
Paul has previously denied any wrongdoing in the case.
Lauren McGaughy, an investigative reporter at the Dallas Morning News, said Paxton’s impeachment centers around accusations of bribery related to Paul.
“Nate Paul is an Austin-based real estate developer, and at one point at least owned properties all over the state. But he’s also a campaign donor to the Texas attorney general: He donated $25,000 to his 2018 reelection bid,” McGaughy said. “What everyone has been reading about in the last several days and weeks is that Paxton is actually accused of being bribed by Mr. Paul to help him with matters that faced his agency. Paul had a number of legal issues that the Office of the Attorney General was considering, and Attorney General Paxton is accused of abusing his power to help Nate Paul.”
» GET MORE NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE: Sign up for our weekly ‘Talk of Texas’ newsletter
McGaughy said Paxton is not mentioned in the Paul indictments that came down late last week. Attorneys on all sides have said they don’t see any connection to the attorney general at this time. However, that may not stay true, she said.
“I think that’s exactly the concern of Ken Paxton’s lawyers. One of them actually told me that they think that the FBI and federal authorities are trying to get Nate Paul to flip on Ken Paxton,” she said. “Both Paul and Paxton have been under FBI investigation for ostensibly different reasons. And so if they can get Nate Paul to kind of, you know, turn on his friend, it might make any potential federal investigation or indictment into Ken Paxton stronger.”
McGaughy said this is all very speculative at this point, but that it’s already on the minds of Paxton’s attorneys.
“It’s kind of the narrative that’s playing out in the background of this whole thing,” she said. “This is happening as Ken Paxton faces an impeachment trial that could result in him being removed from office. So lots of concerns for Mr. Paxton these days.”
Paul, who has yet to face trial and is currently out of jail on bond, has been well known in Austin real estate and business circles for years.
“He’s been repeatedly sued and sued others over disagreements over the properties that he owned. He’s been accused of reneging on deals of not paying back bank notes and loans by multiple different property investors and other kinds of entities like that,” McGaughy said. “But now we’re seeing him in national headlines because of this federal indictment. So it’s definitely upped his profile in a way that he’s probably not too happy with.”
McGaughy said the charges against Paul – which carry jail time and potential fines – will have a broader impact on Texans if the real estate developer decides to turn on the attorney general.
“Many of the articles of impeachment are based on allegations of wrongdoing with the two men’s relationship — bribery, abuse of office, improper conduct,” she said. “If Nate Paul, in his own case, is encouraged to turn over potential evidence against Mr. Paxton, it will, in fact, affect the impeachment trial. That’s something that is important to all Texans since this is our sitting attorney general.”