Jeff Mateer, former second-in-command in the office of Texas Attorney General, testified Wednesday that an extramarital affair Ken Paxton had with a donor’s employee helped connect Paxton to the charges for which he was impeached.
At the Texas State Senate’s impeachment trial Wednesday, Mateer said that the affair “answered that ‘why’ question.”
In 2020 Mateer, an evangelical Christian and self-described far-right Republican, reported Paxton to the FBI over allegations of abuse of office. At Wednesday’s hearing Mateer described the affair—which Paxton has acknowledged—as the gravest threat to the suspended Attorney General’s political career amid a cadre of charges.
The GOP-led Texas state House voted in May to impeach Paxton, a Republican, and suspended him pending the current trial in the state Senate.
The articles of impeachement include bribery, unfitness for office, disregard of official duty and abuse of public trust. They follow an FBI investigation of Paxton for corruption.
He is accused of using his office to assist political donor Nate Paul, who himself was arrested and booked in June on charges of making false statements to banks. Paul is reportedly among some 100 potential witnesses who’ve been subpoenaed to testify at the state Senate trial.
Paxton attorney Tony Buzbee on Wednesday waved off the affair with one of Paul’s employees as well Paul’s $25,000 campaign contribution to Paxton. He went on to suggest that Mateer and other deputies in the Attorney General’s office were “staging a coup.”
“Absolutely not,” Mateer responded to that accusation.
Paxton’s wife, Angela Paxton, is a state Senator, but has been barred from voting in the impeachment trial of her husband. Even so, she was present in the chamber Wednesday and watched from her desk while Mateer testified.
After pleading not guilty Tuesday, the suspended Attorney General was absent from Wednesday’s proceedings.
Mateer testified that he struggled to understand why Paxton was helping Paul, including hiring an outside attorney to investigate the political donor’s seemingly baseless accusations that he was being unjustly targeted by the FBI—until Mateer learned about the affair with Paul’s staffer.
According to Mateer, he and other staff members—including seven other whistleblowers who also went to the FBI—tried to help Paxton, but according to Mateer, “We couldn’t protect him because he didn’t want to be protected.”