The FBI served Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton with a least one subpoena on Wednesday. Paxton is the subject of an ongoing investigation into allegations that he abused his authority to help a friend, a campaign donor. Agents delivered the subpoena(s) to his office.
The investigation was launched after Paxton’s deputies in the attorney general’s office reported him to authorities over concerns of bribery and abuse of office. As I wrote at the time, Paxton’s time in office has been riddled with his own legal problems. He has been under the cloud of indictment for the entire five years he has been in the office. This case has to do with Paxton’s relationship with a businessman, Nate Paul, founder of World Class Holdings. Paul has been under investigation by the FBI since 2019. Paul’s offices raided by the FBI last year.
It boils down to an uprising against Paxton by his deputies. They asked the authorities to investigate Paxton for allegations of improper influence, abuse of office, bribery, and other potential crimes.
The group contended that Paxton, against their recommendation, hired an outside attorney to investigate claims by Paul that the FBI violated his constitutional rights during the raid. Paxton’s staff have said they had already reviewed Paul’s complaint and closed the matter after finding no wrongdoing.
Their complaint touched off weeks of political fallout for Paxton, including calls for his resignation by some fellow Republicans, and led to the launch of the federal investigation.
FBI agents and federal prosecutors in the weeks since have conducted interviews with anyone who might have information about Paxton’s involvement with Paul.
Four people filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Paxton, all of whom have been fired or resigned from their positions in Paxton’s office. They accuse Paxton of retaliation. The lawsuit says that “Paxton also improperly advocated for the release of investigative records to Paul and ordered staff to issue a legal opinion limiting foreclosure sales during the pandemic — allegedly to help Paul.” And, to add some spice to the allegations, “the suit claimed that Paxton’s actions benefited himself and a woman with whom he was reportedly having an affair and had recommended for a job with Paul.” On a side note, Angela Paxton, his wife, was elected to the Texas Senate in November of 2018. She was a teacher for twenty years.
Paxton denies any wrongdoing. He’s already under indictment from charges by a grand jury in 2015. The FBI is not commenting on the subpoena(s) or confirming the investigation.
Paxton remains under indictment on 2015 charges after a Collin County grand jury indicted him on two counts of securities fraud and one count of failing to register with state securities regulators based on private business deals from 2011 and 2012.
Paxton has accused prosecutors of overzealous pursuit of the charges, particularly the fraud accusations — first-degree felonies that carry a maximum punishment of 99 years in prison.
The attorney general issued a brief statement Thursday night.
Paxton said in a statement Thursday evening: “At all times, as in every matter, I ask my staff only to search for the truth, wherever it leads. That’s my responsibility as Attorney General of Texas.”
Not only is this awkward timing for Paxton, but it’s also not great news for the Hail Mary lawsuit Paxton filed on behalf of the State of Texas to the Supreme Court to overturn election results in four battleground states. Seventeen states have joined the lawsuit, though there is likely little chance of a victory. Other states may be ready to join the lawsuit, too. Did Paxton file the lawsuit to distract from his own legal problems? If we say the quiet part out loud, it’s very likely. Many Texas Republicans have called for his resignation and this keeps him in the headlines in a favorable way with Trump supporters. The FBI’s visit yesterday didn’t help him in the eyes of the Texas GOP. Paxton is among a dozen state attorneys general scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump today at the White House. It is being called a previously scheduled meeting and it will be interesting to see if Paxton attends. If I had to place a bet, my money is on Paxton attending the meeting and soaking up the praises of President Trump for filing the lawsuit against those four battleground states.