The FBI on Thursday arrested Nate Paul, a real estate executive at the crux of the scandal that led to the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R).
Travis County Sheriff’s Office records revealed that Paul, the 36-year-old founder of World Class Property in Austin, had been taken into custody by federal agents and booked in an Austin jail Thursday afternoon. While it was not immediately clear what charges had led to his arrest, the records showed he was being detained for a felony.
Late last month the Texas state House voted to impeach Paxton, triggering his suspension pending trial, after the chamber’s Investigative Committee unanimously ruled to issue 20 articles, including bribery, unfitness for office, disregard of official duty and abuse of public trust.
Paxton is already under an FBI investigation for corruption. He is accused of using his office to assist Paul, a political donor.
Several Paxton aides told the FBI in 2020 that they had grown concerned that the attorney general was using his office to help Paul regarding unproven claims of a conspiracy to steal $200 million of his properties.
The FBI had searched Paul’s home in 2019, but no charges were issued against him at that time.
Other allegations against Paxton include attempts to interfere in foreclosure lawsuits and improperly issuing legal opinions to benefit Paul, as well as firing, harassing and interfering with staff who came forward.
The eight aides who reported Paxton to the FBI have all either been fired or quit. Four of them later sued under Texas’ whistleblower law.
Paxton settled their suit in February for $3.3 million.
The bribery charges reportedly stem from allegations that Paul employed a woman with whom Paxton had an affair in exchange for legal help, as well as allegations that Paul paid for pricey renovations on Paxton’s home.
Additionally, Paxton was indicted in 2015 for securities and fraud charges, though he has not yet faced trial.
Paxton’s impeachment has moved to the Texas state Senate for trial. That chamber is led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who, like Paxton, closely links himself with former President Trump. The pair have driven a right-wing policy push for the last decade.
Further, Paxton’s wife Angela is a state Senator, and has not yet said whether she would recuse herself from his trial, which is scheduled to begin no later than August 28.
Paul’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment about his arrest, but they have in the past denied any wrongdoing on his part.