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Texas Attorney General Shrugs Off Bribery Allegations Made by ‘Rogue Employees,’ Refuses to Resign

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

The Republican Attorney General of Texas, days after being accused by his own staffers of bribery and abusing his power, has responded by shrugging off the allegations as nothing more and nothing less than false utterances made by rogues.

Ken Paxton said in a statement on Monday that he will not resign.

“The Texas attorney general’s office was referred a case from Travis County regarding allegations of crimes relating to the FBI, other government agencies and individuals. My obligation as attorney general is to conduct an investigation upon such referral,” Paxton said. “Because employees from my office and impeded the investigation and because I knew Nate Paul I ultimately decided to hire an outside independent prosecutor to my his own independent determination.”

“Despite the effort by rogue employees and their false allegations I will continue to seek justice in Texas and will not be resigning,” he added.

The so-called rogues Paxton is referring to are: First Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Mateer, Deputy First Assistant Attorney General Ryan Bangert, Deputy Attorney General for Policy & Strategy Initiatives James Brickman, Deputy Attorney General for Administration Lacey Mase, Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation Darren McCarty, Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Mark Penley, and Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel Ryan Vassar.

Their Oct. 1 letter said that they had a “good faith belief” that Paxton is “violating federal and/or state law, including prohibitions relating to improper influence, abuse of office, bribery, and other potential criminal offenses.” The employees accused Paxton of improper influence in the case of Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor who donated to Paxton’s 2018 re-election campaign.

Mateer and other officials sent a text to Paxton on Oct. 1, the date of the letter, notifying the Texas attorney general that “each of the individuals on this text chain made a good faith report of violations of law by you to an appropriate law enforcement authority concerning your relationship and activities with Nate Paul.”

It’s unclear what the Paxton-Paul “relationship and activities” are, but Paxton acknowledged in his statement that he knows Paul.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Paul has been under FBI investigation for more than a year; in the months following the Aug. 19 federal raids on Paul’s properties in Austin, the investor filed for more than a dozen bankruptcies:

In August 2019, agents from the FBI and U.S. Department of the Treasury conducted searches of Paul-controlled properties in Austin, including one of his downtown headquarters in the Hirshfeld-Moore building at Ninth and Lavaca streets, seizing folders and other materials.

The U.S. attorney’s office and other authorities have declined to comment on the searches, and no charges have been filed. But real estate entities involving Paul’s World Class Properties have filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the searches, amid numerous loan defaults and efforts by creditors to foreclose on them.

According to court filings, 16 bankruptcies by Paul-controlled entities have been filed since November 2019 and are pending, including the entity that owns the former 3M campus and the one that owns Paul’s Hirshfeld-Moore headquarters.

[Image via Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.