Ken Paxton has to step down as attorney general for the state of Texas. Point.
The question now goes beyond whether a crime has been committed and there are increasing allegations against him. It raises questions about whether he can get the job done, and whether the people of Texas can reasonably trust him to get the job done.
The answer to both questions is a resounding no.
Earlier this month, seven high-ranking officials in Paxton’s office signed a whistleblower complaint accusing the attorney general of unduly influencing peddling, bribery and other criminal offenses. They moved a federal investigation into Paxton that focused on his relationship with a major campaign donor, real estate developer Nate Paul.
As we later learned, Paul had his house and business robbed by the FBI in August 2019. According to a series of statements, Paxton questioned the federal authorities’ treatment of Paul and decided to open his own investigation.
Over the summer, Paxton’s top associate – now former First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer – became increasingly concerned about Paxton’s personal interference in other matters affecting Paul, including a lawsuit between Paul and a charity. Paxton was planning to appear in person in court to try to put the charity’s suit on hold, Mateer told our reporters until Mateer stopped him.
Paxton’s decision to hire a special prosecutor to investigate Paul’s allegations of federal law enforcement abuse was apparently the last straw for his senior MPs. High-ranking officials in the Attorney General’s office had already examined Paul’s claims and found them to be unfounded.
In September, Paxton signed his office and hired an inexperienced prosecutor as a special attorney. That attorney, Brandon Cammack, then fired 37 subpoenas, which a senior prosecutor in Paxton’s office invalidated because Cammack was not authorized to serve as special attorney. A judge agreed and the subpoenas were overturned.
The whistleblower complaint was submitted and published at the beginning of October. Paxton denied its content and dismissed two of the signatories and put two others on investigative leave. Mateer resigned on October 5th and another signatory, Darren McCarty, confirmed his resignation on October 26th.
Now investigative reporters Lauren McGaughy and Allie Morris have found out that Paul hired a former legal advisor whom Paxton recalled in an affidavit recommended. Paxton had an affair with the woman Paul hired, two sources said McGaughy and Morris.
All of this stinks to heaven, but none of this is an assurance that Paxton is at fault, and we are unaware of the status of an investigation into the alleged activities of Paxton on behalf of Paul.
What we do know is that the state’s top law enforcement officer has lost the trust of his top officials. He lost our faith. And he should also lose your belief that he can fulfill the duties of that office.
Texas needs a functioning attorney general. It cannot have that under Paxton.
He must resign now.
Timeline of Problems by Ken Paxton
2014 – Paxton is elected Attorney General.
July 2015 – Paxton is arrested on a securities fraud crime for allegedly convincing people to invest in Servergy Inc. without disclosing that he was involved in the deal. The case is pending and is being handled by special prosecutors.
2018 – Real estate developer Nate Paul donates $ 25,000 to Paxton’s re-election campaign.
August 2019 – The FBI raids Paul’s home and business in Austin.
March-September 2020 – According to top attorney general officials, Paxton was involved at least four times in a number of legal matters involving Paul, including a lawsuit between Paul and a charity, the Roy F. and Joann Cole Mitte Foundation.
July 22 – First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer learns that Paxton went to court in person to argue that a charity lawsuit against Paul should be put on hold. Senior executives have deterred Paxton from the unusual plan, Mateer said.
August – Paxton directs legal staff to deliver a statement that, according to the Austin statesman, helped Paul avoid foreclosure sales on multiple properties.
September – Paxton committed to using civil defense attorney Brandon Cammack, an attorney with five years experience, as an outside attorney to investigate Paul’s complaints.
Oct. 1 – Seven senior officials in Paxton’s office file a whistleblower complaint alleging Paxton “improper influence, bribery and other potential criminal offenses.” They requested a federal investigation.
Oct. 2 – A judge overturns 37 subpoenas Cammack received in connection with Paul’s investigation and agrees with a top attorney in Paxton’s office that Cammack “was not properly authorized to serve as the special attorney on behalf of the attorney general “.
October 5 – Mateer, one of the seven who signed the complaint, resigns.
October 6 – In a public statement, Paxton charged the attorney general’s office of obstructing an investigation into the treatment of Paul by “the FBI, other government agencies and individuals”.
October 9 – Paxton’s office ends an investigation into federal law enforcement’s treatment of Paul after Travis District Attorney Margaret Moore promised not to pursue any resulting case.
October – Mark Penley, Assistant Attorney General for Criminal Justice; Lacey Mase, Assistant Attorney General for Administration; and James “Blake” Brickman, Assistant Attorney General for Political and Strategic Initiatives, are fired. Assistant Attorney General Ryan Vassar is on investigative leave. All four signed the whistleblower complaint.
October 23 – Harris County Chief Justice ruled Paxton’s securities fraud case should be removed from Harris County and returned to Collin County.
October 26 – Darren McCarty, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Litigation and a signatory to the Whistleblower Complaint, confirms that he has resigned.
Oct. 29 – The Dallas Morning News reports that Paul has accused a variety of people, including a federal judge, of orchestrating a plot to steal his property. This complaint was also forwarded to Cammack for investigation.
Nov. 2 – In a filing related to the charity lawsuit, Paul said he hired previous legislative aid on the recommendation of Paxton. Two sources tell The News that Paxton had a romantic relationship with the woman.
Source: The Dallas Morning News