AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Investigators leading the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have released nearly 4,000 pages of documents that lay out in new detail how the embattled Republican allegedly used multiple cellphones and an alias on a ride-sharing app to conceal an affair, and pressured top aides to help a donor who is now facing criminal charges.
The reams of exhibits, most of which were publicly filed late Thursday and include emails and text messages, are the foundation of House Republicans’ case that Paxton abused his office and should be ousted at the end of a historic impeachment trial that begins Sept. 5 in the Texas Capitol.
“It’s a complicated story,” Mark Penley, one of Paxton’s former deputies, told investigators during a deposition in March. “But if you understand what was going on, this was outrageous conduct by an Attorney General that’s supposed to be the chief law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, not the chief lawbreaking officer.”
Paxton, who has been suspended from office since being impeached by the GOP-controlled Texas House in May, has broadly denied wrongdoing and waved off the accusations as politically motivated.
A spokesperson for Paxton did not respond to an email requesting comment Friday.
Both sides are under a gag order imposed by Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who will preside over the trial in the GOP-controlled state Senate. Paxton’s wife, Angela, is a senator but is barred from voting in the proceedings.
The documents provide the fullest picture to date of accusations that have shadowed Paxton since eight of his highest-ranking deputies, including Penley, staged an extraordinary revolt in 2020 and reported him to the FBI. They alleged that Paxton had unlawfully used the power of his office in an attempt to shield Austin real estate developer Nate Paul from legal troubles.
In December 2019, Penley told investigators, Paxton met him at a Starbucks in a wealthy Dallas enclave and asked him to take a phone call with him inside a car in the parking lot. Penley said the call was with Paul and that Paxton described him as a friend who was having issues with the FBI.
Months later, Penley said in the deposition, he met Paxton outside a Dunkin Donuts at a strip mall and urged him to back away from Paul. But Penley said Paxton instead pressed him to approve paying an outside attorney whom Paxton had hired to look into Paul’s claims.
Paul was arrested in June and charged with making false statements to banks in order to procure more than $170 million in loans. He has pleaded not guilty.
The newly filed exhibits also include Uber records that allegedly show Paxton using an alias, “Dave P.”, to hire rides to conceal visits to Paul and a woman with whom Paxton was having an extramarital affair. The documents also include accusations that Paxton used multiple phones.
Paxton was reelected to a third term in November despite the cloud of scandal, which his supporters say shows that voters want him in office. Paxton is also facing multiple legal troubles beyond the impeachment, including a securities fraud indictment from 2015 that has yet to go to trial and an ongoing FBI investigation.