Texas’ top lawman is no stranger to legal troubles of his own. State Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted on securities fraud charges just months after taking office back in 2015.
Now, fallout from a new scandal involving allegations of favors for a political donor, whistleblower retaliation, and now, an alleged affair, have cast a cloud over the attorney general’s office.
The story exploded into public view last month when seven top aides to Paxton accused him of participating in bribery, improper use of his office and more. Reporting from The Dallas Morning News, investigative government reporter Lauren McGaughy filled in the picture for Texas Standard, saying the allegations against Paxton related to his actions purportedly taken on behalf of a donor, Austin real estate developer Nate Paul. While Paul was in the midst of several bankruptcy proceedings, Paxton took the unusual step of hiring an outside attorney to investigate counterclaims Paul made in relation to the case, and appeared to offer additional legal assistance.
“They had some very serious concerns about it,” McGaughy told the Standard. “They were so concerned that they told law enforcement.”
So far, federal officials have not stated whether or not there’s an ongoing investigation.
McGaughy broke news of another connection between Paxton and Paul. In a sworn deposition, Paul says he hired a woman at Paxton’s behest – a woman two sources claim had an extramarital affair with the attorney general. Paxton is married to state Sen. Angela Paxton.
“The developer, Nate Paul, confirmed that he had hired someone, he believed, on Paxton’s recommendation … for his real estate companies. And that woman, we have learned from sources, had allegedly had an affair with the attorney general.”
So far, McGaughy says Paxton has declined to address the allegations.
As for the seven Paxton aides that signed the whistleblower letter kickstarting the controversy, none are working in the office anymore.
“Three of them were fired, three resigned and one is on investigative leave related to this whole issue,” McGaughy said. “The attorney general is firing back saying these former aides are the ones at fault, not him.”
So far, Paxton’s securities fraud trial has been delayed for five years over side issues. McGaughy says it’s unclear whether this new scandal will affect Paxton’s job as attorney general.
“That we don’t know,” McGaughy said. “Previously, the governor and the lieutenant governor had called the new allegations against Paxton ‘concerning,’ which is something they didn’t do back five years ago when he was first charged with securities fraud. … We’ll really have to wait and see what the top elected Republicans in the state have to say in the weeks ahead.”