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Nearly 11 months after former Ken Attorney General’s aides Ken Paxton accused him of accepting bribes, Paxton’s office on Tuesday released a 374-page internal report concluding that he is innocent of the allegations.
Last October, seven former employees told authorities they believed Paxton was using his power as attorney general to help Nate Paul, a campaign donor and Austin real estate developer, that whistleblowers have said helped Paxton. to remodel their house and they were employing a woman with whom Paxton allegedly had an affair. All of these employees were fired or left the office under pressure after their complaint. Four of the employees filed a whistleblower lawsuit saying Paxton used his position to help Paul’s business interests, investigate his enemies and help resolve a lawsuit.
But in Tuesday’s report, Paxton’s office said there was no basis for a criminal complaint against his boss, a second-term Republican.
“AG Paxton’s actions were lawful and consistent with its legal duties and previous actions taken by Texas Attorneys General,” the report said. “AG Paxton did not commit any crime.”
The report also said it found “no evidence” that Paxton had bribed or that there was a quid pro quo relationship between Paxton and Paul. And he accuses three of Paxton’s aides who sued him for breaking the law.
In a statement, plaintiffs’ attorneys said the “feature of this internal report is that while Ken Paxton is still under active federal investigation, people who still work for Paxton say he did nothing wrong.” . According to reports, the FBI is investigating the claims of former Paxton employees.
“In particular, the person who wrote this report in the Paxton office was not willing to put his name on it. Of course, the unilateral internal report is full of average truths, outright lies and blatant omissions, “the statement said. of simple paperwork requests and filings and paying private attorneys to keep the federal investigation quiet. The truth will come out, but you won’t get it from Ken Paxton. “
Alejandro Garcia, a spokesman for Paxton, did not answer any questions about who had worked on the report and what level of independence the person or persons had from the attorney general. The report states that it has its roots in “documents, interviews with third parties and Texas law enforcement.”
But it also states that the report is limited to events that occurred before October 5, 2020, when the internal investigation began, and that the office “reserves the right to update and modify” the report and its conclusions.
The report has no impact on the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, which is currently pending a hearing in the 3rd Court of Appeals after Paxton asked the court to dismiss the case. The four complainants, Ryan Vassar, Mark Penley, James Brickman and David Maxwell, have asked the court to reinstate them and compensate them for lost wages, future loss of earnings and damages for pain and emotional suffering.
Paxton has denied the wrongdoing and said he fired the complainants because they had become “rogue” and made “unfounded claims” against him.
The report states that former employees who reported their concerns to the authorities ignored the facts and sometimes “deliberately overshadowed” them. It also backfires on claims that Paxton accepts bribes and accuses some of the former employees of sharing illegal information from the grand jury with a private lawyer and getting rid of the evidence.
The former employees ’criminal complaint alleges that Paxton pressured staff to help Paul’s attorney obtain information through records requests he had filed with other state agencies. The Attorney General is responsible for resolving disputes over open registration laws. Paul was seeking information related to an August 2019 raid by state and federal authorities at his local office.
Employees also alleged that Paxton was interested in a routine lawsuit between an Austin charity, the Roy R. and Joann Cole Mitte Foundation, and Paul’s real estate firm. The attorney general’s office had no longer wanted to participate in the case, but Paxton ordered the agency to step back and intervene. The effort, according to the complainants and a lawyer from the charity, was aimed at helping Pau’s interests at the expense of the philanthropic group.
Last July, Paxton directed top aides to issue a legal opinion on foreclosure sales during the COVID-19 pandemic that whistleblowers said would help Paul avoid foreclosure sales of some of the its properties.
And more troubling to whistleblowers, Paxton hired a 34-year-old Houston defense attorney named Brandon Cammack to investigate Paul’s claims that he had been abused during the 2019 raid on his home and office.
Two Paxton aides at the time, Maxwell and Penley, had been accused of examining Paul’s claims, but had found that “there was no credible evidence to support any charge under state law.” Penley tried to close the investigation, but Paxton, Paul, and their lawyer backed down. Paxton finally hired Cammack.
The internal report addresses each of the concerns raised in the criminal complaint, saying the Attorney General’s Office ruled against people related to Paul in disputes over open cases several times. The report says the office also took a position on the Mitte Foundation-related lawsuit that was “adverse to Nate Paul,” who would have had to pay a higher settlement under his direction.
The report indicates that the foreclosure opinion responded to a request for guidance from state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, during the heyday of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it is not stated that Hughes has publicly said that he submitted his request for the Attorney General’s opinion at Paxton’s request, and even the Attorney General’s office provided the wording.
The report also said Cammack exercised “legally and correctly” the authority given to him by the Attorney General’s Office and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, although some of the employees who filed a complaint against Paxton said they were unaware of Cammack’s hiring as the office’s external advisor. The report says some of the employees signed the hiring and should have known about Cammack’s work in the office.
The report alleges that Penley, who according to the report should have known about the hiring because he had signed it, misinformed the district attorney’s office that Cammack did not work for the attorney general and violated Texas law. . He also alleges that Vassar committed a crime when he shared information about the citations Cammack had filed with a private attorney who previously worked as a state and federal attorney. The report says Penley also shared citation information with the lawyer.
In an email included in the report, Penley asks the lawyer to send the subpoenas to a police agency.
The lawyer Penley previously asked was acting as a federal prosecutor and the internal report says that because Cammack was investigating the raid on Paul’s home by federal authorities, he may have had personal and professional relationships with potential defendants. The complainants’ statement on Tuesday did not directly address Paxton’s allegations in the report.
Separately, Paxton has been charged with fraud in criminal values. He is seeking a third term in 2022 and has already attracted two Republican opponents to Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Judge Eva Guzman.
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