Impeached Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and now-indicted Austin real estate investor Nate Paul set up an Uber account under a fake name that Paxton used to see his mistress, revealing the extent of the men’s relationship as the FBI targeted Paul for possible mortgage fraud, a new filing in Paxton’s upcoming impeachment trial contends.
Paxton, who is suspended from office pending the outcome of his Sept. 5 Senate impeachment trial, used the account — under the name “Dave P,” which was jointly accessed by both men — to travel to the Pearl Lantana Apartments in Southwest Austin more than a dozen times between August and October 2020 to visit the woman, according to the filing from House impeachment lawyers.
All the while, the filing contends, Paxton and Paul met about 20 to 24 times in the spring and summer of 2020 — and one late night that fall — and discussed ways the state’s top lawyer could help Paul as the FBI stepped up its investigation into the real estate investor. A federal indictment alleges that Paul overstated his wealth and understated his liabilities in order to obtain up to $172 million in loans.
Paxton “morphed the Office of the Attorney General into Paul’s concierge law firm,” the filing states.
In response, Paxton’s lawyer, Tony Buzbee, called the bribery accusations “slanderous” and “meritless,” and criticized the House’s investigation as a waste of taxpayer money.
“After an investigation spanning five months in both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, interviewing over a dozen witnesses and reviewing almost 300,000 pages of documents, the two special prosecutors who were handed a blank check at taxpayers’ expense to find Ken Paxton’s bribe can’t locate one — because it never happened,” Buzbee wrote in a reply that Paxton shared on X.
The alleged assistance from Paul adds to what House impeachment managers say are “bizarre ways” that Paxton helped Paul. Some of the allegations in the new filing have been previously reported, including that Paul also paid for a renovation to Paxton’s Tarrytown home and provided a job for his mistress, a onetime Capitol staffer named Laura Olson.
But the new filing also makes multiple new assertions about Paxton, including the secretive Uber account.
What the public knew and did not know about Paxton’s alleged activities are a particular issue in the impeachment proceedings. He is seeking to have charges against him dismissed under the so-called “forgiveness doctrine,” which states that he may not face impeachment for allegations already known to voters when they elected him to a third term in November.
The new filing contends that the public was unaware of the depth of Paxton’s behavior because his “denials, half truths and downright lies enabled him to conceal the truth from the public.” It says Paxton relied upon “burner phones and secret personal email accounts” and “frequently ditched his security detail so he could meet up with Paul and others.”
The documents also provide greater detail about allegations against Paxton and Paul that have been public for years. During a legal dispute between Paul and a local nonprofit, the Mitte Foundation, Paxton’s aides were puzzled when he appeared to take Paul’s side by pushing for a low-ball settlement. Paxton’s office, according to state law, is required to protect a nonprofit in litigation. Paxton, the filing states, announced he would personally argue a motion in court — an extraordinary move for the state’s top lawyer, who usually leaves such responsibilities to rank-and-file attorneys in his office.
“Mitte found itself negotiating with OAG, the agency legally tasked with protecting it,” the filing said.
This was not the only time House lawyers say Paxton tried to personally appear in a courtroom to benefit Paul. It happened again in late September or early October in a matter related to an attorney general investigation into the law enforcement agencies that had raided Paul’s home and business a year earlier.
Paxton hired through his office Brandon Cammack, an outside lawyer from Houston, to investigate the authorities, over the objection of his top aides. When attorney general office lawyers moved to quash subpoenas that Cammack obtained as part of his investigation, Paxton requested to appear in a Travis County courtroom to oppose the motion and explain that Cammack was acting on his behalf.
The subjects of nearly three dozen subpoenas sought by Cammack included banks and individual law enforcement agents — whose identities were revealed through a confidential affidavit that Paxton obtained from the Texas Department of Public Safety and shared with Paul, the House lawyers say.
The filings also shed new light on the role Paxton played in trying to halt a foreclosure sale that included Paul’s properties. Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, in August 2020 Paxton’s lawyers issued a rushed legal opinion that sought to block the sale from going forward. But the filings say that Paxton’s lawyers had initially come to a different conclusion — that the sale could go forward — before Paxton communicated “this is the wrong answer.” Paxton, the lawyers say, told them to rewrite a draft to say foreclosure sales should be stopped, and he then edited it himself. The next day, Paul filed the opinion in a letter to a judge, arguing that an upcoming sale should be stopped.
“It is hard to imagine a more blatant abuse of Paxton’s office,” the House lawyers said.
The filings address a Paxton home remodel that House lawyers say was paid for by Paul. On Sept. 29, days before Paxton’s aides would report his alleged misconduct to the FBI, House lawyers say Paxton coordinated with the trustee of his blind trust to wire a payment to Cupertino Builders.
The business was not authorized to do work at that time. But more problematic is its connection to Paul, House lawyers say. The corporate officer is Raj Sagiraju, a friend and employee of Paul’s real estate company. Independent financial experts in other litigation identified Cupertino Builders as a recipient for fraudulent transfers made by Paul.
In an exchange previously made public, House lawyers note that a Paxton assistant was present in Paxton’s home when Paxton discussed the remodel with the contractor. After Paxton discussed changes that would add to the project’s cost, the contractor responded, “I will check with Nate.”
The contractor emailed Paul photos of Paxton’s newly finished floors, the filings show.