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Texas attorney general cleared of wrongdoing by his own office

The 374-page internal investigation report produced by Republican Ken Paxton’s own agency found no evidence to support senior staffers’ claims of bribery and abuse of office, while the FBI continues its own investigation.

(CN) — A report released Tuesday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office claims to have found no evidence of bribery or a quid pro quo relationship between Paxton and a campaign donor following allegations of corruption and abuse of office raised last year by a group of senior staffers.

The 374-page internal investigation report produced by Paxton’s own agency says the Republican official “committed no crime” and that the staffers’ allegations “are either factually incorrect or legally deficient.”

The FBI continues to investigate the claims brought by the group of aggrieved staffers, who revolted against their boss 10 months ago and accused him of bribery and abuse of office for allegedly using his position to help campaign donor and Austin real estate investor Nate Paul. They specifically claimed Paxton hired a special prosecutor to investigate alleged enemies of Paul.

All seven whistleblowers have since been fired by the agency or resigned. Four sued Paxton last year in Travis County District Court, claiming they were fired in retaliation, threatened, intimidated and falsely smeared by Paxton. The lawsuit also alleges Paxton abused his office to help get a job for a woman whom they claim he was having an affair with.

Paxton, a Republican seeking reelection to a third term, has denied the allegations and is seeking to have the lawsuit thrown out. No criminal charges related to the whistleblower claims have been filed and the FBI did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on the case.

“AG Paxton’s actions were lawful, and consistent with his legal duties and prior actions taken by attorneys general of Texas,” the report concludes.

It went on to say it was “in the public’s best interest to not delay” the release of the finding clearing Paxton, adding the office will continue to investigate the matter. The report did not include names of any authors or investigators who worked on it.

The office’s release of the report comes just weeks before campaign season ramps up in the Lone Star State for next year’s March primary elections.

Paxton, whose tenure as the state’s top cop has been overshadowed by legal troubles and scandal, has already drawn two primary challengers: Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush - the nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of former President George H. W. Bush – and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman. Both Republicans have made a campaign issue of Paxton’s still-lingering indictment on felony securities fraud charges for allegedly defrauding investors.

The case has languished in pretrial motions for six years.

But Paxton won over the highly sought-after endorsement of former President Donald Trump last month. The attorney general has made headlines in recent weeks for fighting a series of Covid-19 inspired mask mandates issued by school districts across the state.

Follow Erik De La Garza on Twitter

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