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March 24, 2023
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Several top aides to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have accused him of bribery, abuse of office, and other potentially criminal offenses.
Top deputies of Texas’ attorney general have reported to law enforcement that their boss engaged in crimes including bribery and abuse of office, according to an internal letter. In a single-page letter to the director of human resources in the attorney general’s office, the seven senior lawyers wrote that they reported Ken Paxton to “the appropriate law enforcement authority” for potentially breaking the law “in his official capacity as the current Attorney General of Texas.”
“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. It was first reported jointly by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV and subsequently obtained by The Associated Press.
The letter does not offer specifics but nonetheless stands as a remarkable accusation of criminal wrongdoing against the state’s top law enforcement officer by his own staff, including some longtime supporters of his conservative Christian politics. It 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 (CBS).
In a statement sent to CNN Sunday, Paxton’s office denied the allegations and said they were meant to obstruct an inquiry into alleged criminal behavior by other officials. “The complaint filed against Attorney General Paxton was done to impede an ongoing investigation into criminal wrongdoing by public officials including employees of this office,” the statement said. “Making false claims is a very serious matter and we plan to investigate this to the fullest extent of the law.” The attorney general’s office said it would not comment further, citing the “ongoing investigation.” Paxton, a Republican, was first elected attorney general in 2014 and reelected in 2018.
In a separate statement Monday, Paxton said he would not resign amid the allegations and that the case concerning alleged criminal behavior by other officials is being handled by an outside independent prosecutor. “Despite the effort by rogue employees and their false allegations I will continue to seek justice in Texas and will not be resigning,” Paxton said.
According to the Statesman, the letter was sent to human resources and signed by First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer, who resigned on Friday. The other signees include Mateer’s deputy and deputy attorneys general who oversee the office’s policy, administration, civil litigation, criminal investigations, and legal counsel divisions. “Each signatory below has knowledge of facts relevant to these potential offenses and has provided statements concerning those facts to the appropriate law enforcement authority,” the letter says. The aides also informed Paxton personally via text message, the letter says.
ARTICLE: CARSON CHOATE, DOMESTIC AFFAIRS EDITOR