The U.S. Department of Justice took over the corruption investigation against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. State prosecutors first investigated Paxton in 2020.
State prosecutors released a statement disclosing that the Paxton investigation was turned over to the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, which prosecutes allegations of misconduct against local, state and federal elected officials.
According to AP, Paxton first came under investigation in 2020 after his deputies accused him of bribery and abusing his office to help a campaign contributor, Nate Paul, who employed a woman with whom Paxton was having an alleged affair.
AP explained that Paxton helped Paul in more ways than one, the most important being Paxton’s hiring of an outside lawyer to investigate Paul’s claims that the FBI federal judges and others were conspiring against him. The lawyer hired did not have any prosecutorial experience, but had ties to Paul’s defense attorney. Paxton’s in-office lawyers did not believe Paul’s claims were legitimate, prompting him to hire an outside lawyer.
The group accusing the attorney general includes several of Paxton’s longtime allies and was later joined by the agency’s head of law enforcement. All eight resigned, were put on leave or were fired, prompting a whistleblower lawsuit.
This comes less than one week after Paxton agreed to apologize and pay $3.3 million in taxpayer money to settle the whistleblower lawsuit with four of the employees who accused him of crimes.
The investigation does not have a set timeline and could take months or years to become public if Paxton is charged. During the upcoming legislative session, lawmakers could push to impeach the attorney general.
Paxton announced in a tweet that he is being “falsely accused” and will continue to advocate for the “citizens of Texas.”
Paxton is not new to run-ins with the law, in 2022, the attorney general and his wife, Senator Angela Paxton, fled their McKinney home to avoid being served a subpoena. The subpoena was for a federal court hearing Tuesday in a lawsuit from nonprofits that want to help Texans pay for abortions out of state.
Local Profile reached out to Paxton’s office but did not receive a response prior to publishing.