A team of attorneys working with the Texas House General Investigating Committee revealed findings of a probe into misconduct allegations against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The meeting Wednesday morning before the five-member Texas House General Investigating Committee lasted about three hours. The panel began looking into Paxton in March after a proposal to use state funds in order to pay a $3.3 million settlement over a whistleblower lawsuit filed by four former employees who accused Paxton of wrongdoing.
Erin Epley served as a lead investigator for the team of former prosecutors and white-collar crime experts, who also looked into Paxton’s relationship with Austin real estate and campaign donor Nate Paul. Investigators alleged Paxton improperly used his office’s resources to help Paul, who had been under FBI investigation, in his fight against a charitable foundation.
The team said Wednesday, they reviewed hundreds of pages of documents, including lawsuit documents. Epley said they also interviewed the whistleblowers, along with other agency employees. The ‘whistleblower’ lawsuit refers to the four former employees who sued Paxton in 2020. They claimed they were fired after alleging Paxton committed bribery and abuse of power to help Paul.
According to investigators Wednesday, Paul contributed $25,000 to Paxton’s re-election in 2018. Accusations are still under investigation and no charges have been filed.
The findings discussed Wednesday addressed allegations, which include Paul helping remodel the kitchen in Paxton’s home in Austin and securing a job for a woman with whom Paxton was alleging having an affair.
In attendance Wednesday was Adrian Shelley, the Texas director of Public Citizen. The watchdog group is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in Texas.
“I think what is really surprising about today is just the breath of misconduct here. It seems like at every turn, Paxton was willing to abuse his office and to bully those around him,” Shelley said.
Shelley said their group is calling for Paxton’s resignation.
“His conduct throughout his time as attorney general has been unbecoming of someone who is the state’s top law enforcement official,” he said. “His alleged crimes are hopefully finally catching up with him. If the Legislature doesn’t act right away to impeach Ken Paxton, I think it sends a signal he really is above the law.”
The committee remained in executive session for about one hour Wednesday, adjourning around noon without a public recommendation or ruling.
Just before noon Wednesday, Paxton said the hearing had “false testimony” with “highly partisan Democrat lawyers with the goal of manipulating and misleading the public.”
“Every allegation is easily disproved, and I look forward to continuing my fight for conservative Texas values,” Paxton said in a statement.
NBC 5 also reached out to an attorney representing Nate Paul. We have not heard back as of this writing.