FBI Subpoenas Texas AG Ken Paxton After Alleged Bribery Reports

In this Sept. 10, 2020, file photo, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at the Austin Police Association in Austin, Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — Sources confirmed Thursday the FBI has subpoenaed Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after his senior staff revolted and reported him for alleged corruption, bribery and abuse of office for investigating the enemies of campaign donor and Austin real estate investor Nate Paul.

Three sources told the Austin American-Statesman and ABC-affiliate KVUE that federal agents delivered at least one subpoena to Paxton’s office in Austin on Wednesday. The FBI declined to comment on the report Thursday — the agency has yet to publicly acknowledge an investigation into Paxton is taking place. Paxton’s office could not be reached for comment after office hours Thursday.

The report comes two months after seven of Paxton’s senior staff asked for the federal investigation after Paxton appointed Houston attorney Brandon Cammack as a special outside prosecutor for the Paul investigation. The staff mutinied after Cammack had a Travis County grand jury subpoena Paul’s creditors in September.

“We have a good faith belief that the Attorney General is violating federal and/or state law, including prohibitions relating to improper influences, abuse of office, bribery, and other potential criminal offenses,” the one-page letter dated Oct. 1 states. “Each signatory below has knowledge of facts relevant to these potential offenses and has provided statements concerning those facts to the appropriate law enforcement authority.”

All seven whistleblowers have since been fired by Paxton. Four sued Paxton last month in Travis County District Court, claiming they were fired in retaliation, threatened, intimidated and falsely smeared by Paxton. 

The lawsuit claims Cammack issued 39 subpoenas that were designed to harass law enforcement and federal prosecutors that were looking into Paul and his businesses. Paul’s home and businesses were raided last year — he has yet to be criminally charged.

The whistleblowers claim Paxton used his official capacity to help Paul, that he pressured them to give Paul’s lawyers state and federal records into the raids. They claim Paxton ordered the issuance of a non-binding advisory opinion that would stop some of Paul’s real estate properties from being foreclosed on during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Paul has contributed $25,000 to Paxton’s campaign. He has also given money to the campaigns of at least three other Texas Republicans in the past two years, including Congressmen Chip Roy and Michael McCaul and U.S. Senator John Cornyn, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Paxton was forced to publicly close the investigation on Paul’s behalf after Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore called him out on Oct. 9, alleging Paxton personally approached her office with Paul and Paul’s attorney to complain about FBI and Texas Rangers’ investigations into Paul. Moore had referred Paxton’s complaint back to Paxton’s office on June 10.

“We concluded that ours was not the appropriate office to either address the matters raised in the complaint or to conduct an investigation into them,” Moore wrote at the time. “My office has closed this file and will take no further action. Furthermore, I have instructed my employees to have no further contact with you or your office regarding this matter.”

Further complicating matters was confirmation by two sources in November that Paxton admitted to having an affair with a woman in 2018. Paul admitted during a deposition in an unrelated state civil case last month that Paxton recommended the mistress to him for a job, but Paul explicitly denied he hired her as a favor to Paxton.

The whistleblowers’ lawsuit also alleged Paxton admitted the affair. His wife is state Senator Angela Paxton, R-McKinney. The couple has not publicly commented on the allegations.

Few Republicans have dared to ask Paxton to resign. Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick have each declined to comment on the allegations until an investigation is completed. Congressman Roy and state Representative Sarah Davis, R-Houston, have urged Paxton to step down.

The FBI subpoena comes two days after Paxton filed a last-ditch lawsuit against four battleground states that narrowly went to President-elect Joe Biden. 

Filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court, the suit claims Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania had “significant and unconstitutional irregularities” that cost President Donald Trump votes. The lawsuit claims the states took advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to implement unconstitutional changes to election procedures.

Legal experts have dismissed Paxton’s lawsuit as legally dubious, while others call it “insane.” Some critics have speculated Paxton’s lawsuit is merely a ploy to gain favor with Trump in order to secure a presidential pardon against the FBI’s investigation and possible criminal charges. 

Trump has pardoned political allies and his friends in the past, including former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona and Republican commentator Dinesh D’Souza. Trump commuted the sentence of Republican operative Roger Stone in July, erasing a 40-month sentence for witness tampering and lying to Congress.

Repeated questions over Paxton’s ethics have dogged him for five years. A Collin County grand jury charged Paxton in August 2015 with two first-degree felony counts of securities fraud and a third-degree felony count of failing to register with the Texas State Securities Board from his time in the Texas House of Representatives.

Prosecutors claim the attorney general urged investors to put $600,000 into technology firm Servergy without disclosing he would earn a commission and misrepresented he was investing in the McKinney-based company.

Paxton faces up to 99 years in state prison if convicted. The criminal case has been stuck in pretrial for over five years as the case has been moved to Harris County and back while Paxton has launched several attempts at having the judge removed.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a similar civil lawsuit against Paxton in April 2016 in federal court in Dallas over the Servergy matter. A federal judge dismissed that lawsuit six months later, finding Paxton “did not have a legal obligation to disclose his financial arrangements” to the firm’s investors.

One year later, a Dallas-area district attorney launched an ethics probe into Paxton accepting a $100,000 gift for his legal defense fund from James Webb, the leader of a company that was being investigated for Medicaid fraud.

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