Much of the alleged misconduct detailed in the articles of impeachment filed against Attorney General Ken Paxton centers on his relationship with a real estate investor, Nate Paul.
Not long ago, Mr. Paul, who in 2018 donated $25,000 to Mr. Paxton’s campaign, was heralded as one of the most successful young real estate entrepreneurs in Austin, Texas.
His legal troubles came into public view in 2019 when F.B.I. agents raided his 9,175-square-foot home and his downtown offices in an inquiry whose details they declined to disclose.
Investigators with a Texas House committee testified this week that Mr. Paul had asked his friend, Mr. Paxton, to help him find out details of the federal investigations, a potential violation of the state’s open records laws.
Mr. Paul is currently contending with a slew of lawsuits and bankruptcy proceedings.
Forbes called him a “real estate prodigy” in 2017 when he was 30 years old, estimating that his company owned $1.2 billion in real estate assets. He founded the company, World Class Holdings, in 2007 and 10 years later had amassed 10 million square feet of commercial space, including a large inventory of self-storage facilities, according to Forbes.
His business was built in part on buying properties at low prices with low interest rates in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. He eventually expanded his empire to at least 17 states, from California to New York.
But the various investigations into Mr. Paul have been accompanied by financial setbacks. According to The Austin Business Journal, at least 18 entities connected to World Class Holdings have filed for bankruptcy protection.
In March, Mr. Paul narrowly avoided spending 10 days in jail for contempt of court in a civil fraud case filed by an Austin nonprofit that had invested in one of his enterprises; an appeals court granted him a stay. Mr. Paul has denied any wrongdoing in the case and has also complained that the F.B.I. raid was unlawful and without justification.
His appeal to Mr. Paxton for help on that matter is one of the key elements of the impeachment case against the attorney general.
Mr. Paxton not only arranged a meeting between Mr. Paul and the local district attorney’s office, he also appointed a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Paul’s allegations about law enforcement, according to investigators who testified before a Texas House committee.
The attorney general’s intervention on behalf of his friend alarmed lawyers in his office, who later filed a whistle-blower complaint. It also emerged that Mr. Paxton had recommended a potential employee to Mr. Paul — a woman with whom Mr. Paxton was having a relationship — and she was subsequently hired at Mr. Paul’s company as a project manager, according to a deposition in a court case.
Allegations by members of Mr. Paxton’s staff also surfaced that Mr. Paul helped Mr. Paxton with renovations on his house, including $20,000 in new granite countertops. In legal filings, the whistle-blowers said that Mr. Paul “either personally or through a construction company he owns and controls” aided in the remodeling project.
Mr. Paxton also hired an outside counsel, who referred to himself as a special prosecutor, to investigate, among other things, the F.B.I. raid on Mr. Paul’s house and office. The hiring came over the objections of members of Mr. Paxton’s staff, who said it would be improper.
David Montgomery contributed reporting.
World News || Latest News || U.S. News