Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says new criminal allegations against AG Ken Paxton ‘raise serious concerns’
“These allegations raise serious concerns. I will withhold further comment until the results of any investigation are complete,” Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said in a prepared statement on Sunday.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called the news “obviously concerning,” and echoed Abbott’s comments that he would “wait until the investigation is complete before making any additional comments.”
Their comments came one day after the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV reported that seven high ranking members of Paxton’s office contacted the director of the human resources in the attorney general’s office regarding possible crimes. In a letter, the seven legal staffers wrote Paxton, a Republican, may have broken the law “in his official capacity as the current Attorney General of Texas.”
Late Sunday, the Houston Chronicle reported the accusations deal with Paxton’s relationship with embattled Austin real estate developer and campaign donor Nate Paul.
Paul, whose offices were reportedly raided by the FBI last year, gave Paxton $25,000 ahead of his re-election battle in 2018.
While not providing any examples of malfeasance, the letter, which was sent Thursday, reads in part: “We have a good faith belief that the attorney general is violating federal and/or state law including prohibitions related to improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses,” the Thursday letter states.
The letter could deepen legal trouble for Paxton, who has spent nearly his entire five years in office under felony indictment for securities fraud, although the case has stalled for years over legal challenges. Paxton pleaded not guilty in the case.
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a former top aid to Paxton, called on his one-time boss to resign from his post and announced that he would return campaign donations from Paul.
“For the good of the people of Texas and the extraordinary public servants who serve at the Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Ken Paxton must resign,” he said in a statement. “The allegations of bribery, abuse of office, and other charges levied against him by at least 7 senior leaders of the Office of the Attorney General are more than troubling on the merits.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report