Much of the alleged wrongdoing detailed in the impeachment articles filed against Attorney General Ken Paxton revolves around his relationship with a real estate investor, Nate Paul.
Not long ago, Mr. Paul, who donated $25,000 to Mr. Paxton’s campaign in 2018, was named one of the most successful young real estate entrepreneurs in Austin, Texas.
His legal troubles came to light in 2019 when FBI agents raided his 9,175-square-foot home and his downtown offices in an investigation they declined to disclose details of.
Investigators from a Texas House committee testified this week that Mr. Paul asked his friend, Mr. Paxton, to help him uncover details of the federal investigations, a possible violation of the state’s public records laws.
Mr. Paul is currently dealing with a slew of lawsuits and bankruptcy proceedings.
Forbes called him a “real estate prodigy” in 2017 when he was 30 years old, and estimated that his company owned $1.2 billion in real estate. He founded the company, World Class Holdings, in 2007 and 10 years later, according to Forbes, he had amassed 10 million square feet of commercial space, including a large inventory of self-storage facilities.
His business was built in part on buying real estate at low prices with low interest rates in the aftermath 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 were accompanied by financial setbacks. At least 18 entities associated with World Class Holdings have filed for bankruptcy protection, according to The Austin Business Journal.
In March, Mr. Paul narrowly served 10 days in prison for contempt of court in a civil fraud case brought by an Austin nonprofit that had invested in one of his ventures; an appeals court granted him a stay. Mr. Paul has denied any wrongdoing in the case and has also complained that the FBI raid was illegal and without justification.
His appeal to Mr Paxton for help on that issue is one of the most important elements of the impeachment proceedings against the Attorney General.
Not only did Mr. Paxton arrange a meeting between Mr. Paul and the local district attorney’s office, he also appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Mr. Paul’s allegations about law enforcement, according to investigators who testified before a Texas State Attorney’s Office committee. House.
The intervention of the attorney general on his friend’s behalf alarmed lawyers in his office, who later filed a whistleblower complaint. It also turned out that Mr. Paxton had recommended a potential employee to Mr. Paul – a woman with whom Mr. Paxton was in a relationship – and that she was subsequently hired at Mr. Paul as project manager, according to a statement in a lawsuit.
Allegations from members of Mr. Paxton’s staff also surfaced that Mr. Paul was helping Mr. Paxton with renovations to his home, including $20,000 worth of new granite countertops. In legal documents, the whistleblowers said Mr Paul “either personally or through a construction company he owns and controls” helped with the remodeling project.
Mr. Paxton also hired outside counsel, calling himself a special prosecutor, to investigate, among other things, the FBI raid on Mr. Paul’s home and office. The adoption was over the objections of members of Mr Paxton’s staff who said it would be inappropriate.
David Montgomery reporting contributed.