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‘AG Paxton Committed No Crime’: Texas Attorney General Clears Self of Bribery Accusations in Unsigned Report


Ken Paxton at CPAC

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who has spent the better part of six-year tenure under indictment for securities fraud, committed no crime. That’s the finding of a new report by Paxton’s office clearing the attorney general of unrelated bribery accusations leveled against him by his former employees.

“AG Paxton’s actions were lawful, and consistent with his legal duties and prior actions taken by Attorneys General of Texas,” the first bullet point of his executive summary states. “AG Paxton committed no crime.”

In a report totaling 374 pages with exhibits, Paxton’s office found that the former employees alleging otherwise have “no evidence” of a “quid pro quo”—that Latin phrase meaning “this for that,” the type of transactions forbidden by public office holders under anti-corruption law.

Several of Paxton’s ex-top aides—described in the report as the “Complainants”—accused him of improper influence in the case of Austin real estate investor Nate Paul, who donated to the attorney general’s 2018 re-election campaign. They claimed the attorney general performed a series of favors for Paul, allegedly in return for a job for Paxton’s mistress, according to the Houston Chronicle. Paul has been under a lengthy FBI investigation, and the investor’s properties in the Lone Star State’s capital were raided on Aug. 19, 2020.

“There is no evidence that Nate Paul attempted to bribe AG Paxton,” the report by Paxton’s office, published under his official seal, states. “The Complainants attempt to use a campaign donation as proof of the bribe, however, Paul has made only one campaign donation to AG Paxton in 2018 – not only well before the allegedly improper actions taken by AG Paxton in 2020, but even before the FBI’s 2019 raid that formed the gravamen of Nate Paul’s criminal complaints.”

The FBI declined comment on the status of the investigation or the bureau’s reaction to Paxton’s report.

Paxton’s ex-aides—Jeff Mateer, Ryan Bangert, Lacey Mase, Ryan Vassar, Mark Penley, Blake Brickman, and Darren McCarty—were fired or resigned. The attorney general slammed them collectively in the report, writing “some of the Complainants operated in an unaccountable manner by not documenting their actions, instructing subordinates not to document their actions, dismissing other employees so that they could have secret meetings, deleting emails, and potentially other acts taken to conceal behaviors, processes, and evidence.”

Attorneys representing some of those ex-aides, who describe themselves as whistle-blowers, released a scathing statement skewering Paxton’s “half-baked self-exoneration.”

“The takeaway from this internal report is that, although Ken Paxton remains under active federal investigation, the people who still work for Paxton say he did nothing wrong,” attorney T.J. Turner wrote on behalf of that legal team. “Notably, whoever in Paxton’s office wrote this report was not willing to put their name on it. Of course, the one-sided internal report is full of half-truths, outright lies, and glaring omissions. It is a half-baked self-exoneration by Paxton, who continues to use taxpayer dollars to delay and hide from simple document requests and depositions and pay private lawyers to keep the federal investigation quiet. The truth will come out, but you won’t get it from Ken Paxton.”

An amended version of his lawsuit from February details tawdry allegations against Paxton.

In the recent iteration of the lawsuit, they claim that Paxton intervened on Paul’s behalf for help on his home remodeling and to keep a lid on his extramarital affair.

“Paxton and [the Office of Attorney General] misused the funds, services and personnel of his office to personally benefit Nate Paul and to benefit himself,” the Feb. 9 complaint alleged. “Plaintiffs reasonably concluded that Paxton’s bizarre, obsessive use of the power of his office to help Nate Paul was an effort to repay Paul for Paul’s help with Paxton’s home remodel and/or to silence or repay Paul for helping or paying Paxton’s mistress, and/or to encourage Paul not to reveal that Paxton had had an affair.”

Several ex-employees have sued Paxton for alleged retaliation.

Update—Aug. 24 at 1:53 p.m. Eastern Time: This story has been updated to include a statement by the ex-aides’ lawyers.

Read the report below:

(Image of Ken Paxton at CPAC via Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."