AG Paxton’s Alleged Corruption Resurrected in Middle of Primary Race

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. | Image by Cooper Neill / New York Times

On Monday, four ex-employees of Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement accusing him of lying.

The statement references the bribery accusations against AG Paxton, which the FBI has been investigating since late 2020. Paxton is currently running for reelection in the March 1 Republican primary.

The allegations were initially made in 2020 by former staffers of Paxton. They alleged that Paxton abused his office to help Austin real estate investor Nate Paul. Some of the alleged favors Paxton received include having his mistress hired and his home remodeled, as well as incurring a $25,000 donation.

In the statement, the ex-employees said: “Our preference was to remain silent while the wheels of justice turned. However, in recent weeks, Paxton has made numerous false and misleading public statements that we feel obligated to correct.”

The Dallas Morning News first reported on the information.

Paxton has repeatedly denied the claims, and no federal charges have been filed. He alleges the claims are political retribution at a crucial time for his reelection.

“I was investigating the FBI for corruption, so it’s kind of convenient,” Paxton previously said in an interview with Texas Scorecard.

Paxton has stated in recent interviews that the whistleblowers are rogue employees infiltrated by the FBI, pointing out that he does not know the specific allegations against him. He claims the whistleblowers broke the law by going to federal law enforcement before expressing their concerns with him.

In their statement, Paxton’s ex-employees say his claim that they did not address the issues with him is false.

“We confronted Ken Paxton about his and his agency’s corrupt and criminal conduct, and, when he would not abide by the law, we reported him to the FBI,” they said. “Paxton is under criminal investigation, not the whistleblowers.”

Paxton released a statement in response to the one issued by his ex-employees later the same day. Instead of replying directly to his former staffers, he blamed the media for resurrecting the old allegations during his primary race.

“These false accusations conveniently re-instigated by the liberal media during early voting are nothing but lies, disinformation, or contradiction,” Paxton said.

He pointed to a 374-page report released by his own office in August 2021 that cleared him of any wrongdoing. He also claimed a 90% win rate in lawsuits against the Biden administration.

“Every effective conservative leader is and will be attacked,” he added. “Others can play politics while we keep winning for Texans.”

Paxton faces three well-known Republicans in his primary race: U.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert, Land Commissioner George P. Bush (the nephew of the former president), and former State Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

Polls have shown that this is a hotly contested race with high chances of being decided with a runoff election.

Kenneth Bryant Jr., an assistant professor of political science at UT-Tyler, told The Dallas Morning News that growing distrust of the FBI could be helping Paxton with conservative voters.

“The Trump years have re-trained a lot of conservatives’ thinking about organizations like the FBI and looking at them with some skepticism,” he said. “It’s been politicized.”

In a recent poll conducted by The DMN in conjunction with UT-Tyler, only 15% of Republican voters said Paxton lacks the integrity needed to serve as the state’s attorney general.

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