DALLAS (AP) — A Republican congressman from Texas became the most prominent member of his party to call for the resignation of the state’s Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, following revelations that Paxton’s top deputies reported him to law enforcement for alleged crimes including bribery and abuse of office.
Rep. Chip Roy, who was previously Paxton’s top deputy in the attorney general’s office, said in statement Monday that his former boss must step down “for the good of the people of Texas.”
Roy’s call for Paxton’s resignation comes days after seven senior lawyers in Paxton’s office sent a letter to the office’s head of human resources saying that they reported their boss to “the appropriate law enforcement authority” for potentially breaking the law “in his official capacity as the current Attorney General of Texas.”
Paxton said Monday that he would not resign and and cast blame on “rogue employees and their false allegations.”
The letter did not include specifics of the claims against Paxton, but they appear to stem from a legal tangle involving a federal investigation of one of the attorney general’s campaign donors and a counter-investigation by Paxton’s office into the donor’s allegations of wrongdoing by the federal investigators.
Paxton acknowledged Monday that his employees’ complaint arose from his decision to appoint an outside lawyer to lead the investigation of Austin developer Nate Paul’s claims that the FBI improperly searched his home and business last year. Paxton said local prosecutors “referred” the case to his office.
Paxton’s deputies reported him to law enforcement last week after becoming concerned about his relationship with Paul and how it might be affecting the investigation, according to documents obtained by Hearst Newspapers and Austin American-Statesman. Paxton asked a Houston lawyer to act as special prosecutor in the investigation of Paul’s claims, the newspapers reported. One of Paxton’s deputies reportedly described the appointment as inappropriate and the Houston lawyer’s actions as possibly illegal.
Paul gave Paxton $25,000 during his hard-fought 2018 reelection bid, campaign finance records show. Lawyers for the developer and his companies did not respond to Monday requests for comment from The Associated Press. A lawyer for Paul declined to comment to the American-Statesman. “Because employees from my office impeded the investigation and because I knew Nate Paul I ultimately decided to hire an outside independent prosecutor to make his own independent determination,” Paxton said in a news release. “Despite the effort by rogue employees and their false allegations I will continue to seek justice in Texas and will not be resigning.”
The FBI declined to comment Monday. There are no public criminal charges against Paul.
Roy on Monday sided with the prosecutors accusing Paxton, saying that he knows several of them and their character is “beyond reproach.”
“The allegations of bribery, abuse of office, and other charges levied against him by at least 7 senior leaders of the Office of the Attorney General are more than troubling on the merits,” Roy said in a news release. “But, any grace for him to resolve differences and demonstrate if the allegations are false was eliminated by his choice instead to attack the very people entrusted, by him, to lead the office.”
Other top Texas Republicans, including the governor and lieutenant governor, have said the allegations against Paxton are troubling but have not called for him to resign, saying an investigation should proceed.
The remarkable accusation of criminal wrongdoing against Texas’ top law enforcement official by his own staff could deepen Paxton’s legal troubles. He has spent nearly his entire five years in office under felony indictment for securities fraud. Paxton pleaded not guilty and the case has stalled for years over legal challenges.
One of the special prosecutors in the securities case against Paxton said Sunday that they would look into the new allegations against him.