DALLAS – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had an extramarital affair with a woman he then recommended for a job with the wealthy donor now at the center of criminal allegations against him, according to two people who said Paxton their had talked about the relationship.
The two, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity over fears of retaliation, said the senior Republican official admitted the case in 2018 to senior officials in his office and political staff. They said he told them he had ended the affair with the woman, who then worked for a GOP state senator.
Austin developer Nate Paul said in a deposition this week that Paxton recommended the woman for her work at Paul’s real estate company, according to a transcript of his deposition obtained by the AP. The woman had stopped working as an assistant in the Senate in late 2019, although the reason for her departure was not immediately clear.
Paul’s hiring of the woman on Paxton’s recommendation sheds new light on the relationship between the two men.
Top assistants to the attorney general reported their boss to the FBI in September for alleged corruption, abuse of power and other crimes. These allegations stem in part from Paxton’s decision to investigate Paul’s claims that a federal judge and the FBI broke the law in searches of his home and offices last year.
Disclosure of the case is likely to exacerbate political troubles for Paxton, who has gained a national image as an advocate for conservative Christian legal causes, while maintaining his innocence in the facing separate criminal charges.
Spokesmen for the attorney general did not answer questions on Thursday.
In his Monday testimony, Paul explicitly denied employing the former Senate aide in his company, World Class, in favor of Paxton.
“World Class has hundreds of employees, including (the woman), and in accordance with federal and state laws, does not infringe their privacy, including to inquire about their personal lives,” said the lawyer for the developer, Michael Wynne, in an email.
The woman is named in a transcript of Paul’s testimony and the two people who said Paxton told them about the case independently identified her by name. She did not respond to multiple requests for comment. AP does not name her because she is not a public figure.
When questioned during the deposition, Paul said he did not know how the woman he hired and the attorney general got to know each other. He said he couldn’t remember how long the woman had worked for him, how much she was paid and whether he had met her before or after Paxton recommended her.
The senator’s office did not respond to requests for comment. The personal files of the woman are blank where the reason for her departure would be indicated.
In September, Paxton hired an external lawyer examine Paul’s complaint against the FBI and separate the allegations that businessmen plotted against him with a federal judge. The move sparked a remarkable rebellion from seven senior lawyers on his team, who, since the attorney general was reported to federal authorities, have all resigned, been on leave or fired.
The allegations triggered new calls for Paxton’s resignation and raised questions about its connection to the developer. Paxton admitted to knowing Paul, who donated $ 25,000 to his campaign in 2018, but the full nature of their relationship has not been clear.
A new aspect of their connection emerged on Monday when lawyers in a civil case against some of Paul’s companies questioned the developer. During the deposition, Paul said the former Senate aide applied for a posted position and is now working for him as a project manager. A lawyer asked the promoter if Paxton recommended the woman.
“I believe he – I believe he recommended her,” Paul replied.
Paxton acknowledged his affair with the woman during his bitter 2018 re-election campaign, at least in part out of fear that it would become public, people he spoke to have said.
In September, Paxton assembled a small group of senior executives in his Austin campaign office. One person who attended the meeting said Paxton and his wife, State Senator Angela Paxton, entered the conference room holding hands. The attorney general told the group he was having an affair but ended it and re-engaged at his marriage, the person said.
The other person confirmed that the meeting took place and said that Paxton also spoke with this person separately from his affair with the woman.
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