FBI investigating alleged corruption by Texas attorney general

FILE -- Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, holds a news conference outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, Sept. 9, 2019. An architect of Texas Republicans’ aggressive conservative agenda, Paxton now stands accused of wrongdoing by his own aides and faces calls for his resignation.  (Al Drago/The New York Times) .
FILE -- Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, holds a news conference outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, Sept. 9, 2019. An architect of Texas Republicans’ aggressive conservative agenda, Paxton now stands accused of wrongdoing by his own aides and faces calls for his resignation. (Al Drago/The New York Times) .

The FBI this week revealed an investigation into Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton over allegations of corruption and abuse of power, according to numerous reports.

Paxton, the state’s top law enforcement official, is accused of bribery and other crimes that would directly benefit one of his wealthy donors — Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, The Associated Press reported, citing two sources inside the investigation.

Aware of the alleged backdoor deals, Paxton’s top deputies reported him to federal authorities at the end of September.

Paxton, a Republican, has denied all wrongdoing and rejected calls for his resignation. At the same time, each of his accusers has resigned, been put on leave or been fired since turning him in, AP reports.

Last week, four of them filed a state whistleblower lawsuit against the attorney general, claiming he ousted them as retaliation.

Authorities have not revealed the extent to which they are looking into Paxton, and it is not known whether actual criminal charges are forthcoming.

Paxton is at least the second politicl figure this week whose name has been linked to a corruption scandal.

P.G. Sittenfeld, one of Cincinnati’s most powerful and charismatic Democratic politicians, was arrested by the FBI Thursday after being indicted on federal corruption charges.

» THIS WEEK: FBI arrests Cincinnati councilman on corruption charges

Paxton allegedly used his high-profile position to benefit Paul in several ways, according to seven senior lawyers in the attorney general’s office and the agency’s head of law enforcement.

One of the central allegations against Paxton is that he hired an outside lawyer to investigate Paul’s claims that the FBI improperly searched his home and offices in 2019, AP reports.

But the full nature of Paxton and Paul’s connection remains unclear.

In 2018, Paul donated $25,000 to the attorney general’s reelection campaign. The developer also said in a recent deposition that Paxton recommended a woman for her job with his company.

Two people previously told The Associated Press that Paxton acknowledged in 2018 having an extramarital affair with the woman, who was then a state Senate aide. The people spoke on condition of anonymity due to fears about retaliation.

Paxton said in a Tuesday statement to the Austin American-Stateman that, “after reviewing the claims made by former employees of this office, their allegations are overblown, based upon assumptions, and to a large degree misrepresent the facts.”

Paxton has spent most of his tenure in office maintaining his innocence in the face of an indictment on unrelated securities fraud charges. The case has been stalled for years over legal challenges.

A criminal defense attorney for Paxton, Philip Hilder, declined to comment. Spokespersons in the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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