Analysis: Embattled Texas AG Ken Paxton's own office declares him innocent. Who cares?

click to enlarge Texas AG Ken Paxton's legal woes have compounded, making him a prime target for a primary challenge. - Courtesy Photo / Ken Paxton
Courtesy Photo / Ken Paxton
Texas AG Ken Paxton's legal woes have compounded, making him a prime target for a primary challenge.
Texans concerned about graft and corruption can officially breathe easy. Or so report staffers employed by embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

On Tuesday afternoon, the office of Paxton — a second-term Republican at the center of whistleblower suits and a reported FBI investigation — issued a 374-page report declaring the boss man innocent of a raft of troubling allegations by his former top aides.

In case you need a refresher, seven key Paxton aides last fall accused him of taking bribes and abusing his office to help out real estate developer Nate Paul, a campaign donor. Among other things, they charged that Paul also gave a job to a woman with whom Paxton allegedly carried on an affair.

All those aides have since departed — either fired or pressured to resign, according to news reports. Four have since hit Paxton with a whistleblower suit alleging they were wrongfully terminated.

But not according to the new report from the AG's office. The document maintains there were no favors between Paxton and Paul.

“AG Paxton’s actions were lawful, and consistent with his legal duties and prior actions taken by Attorneys General of Texas,” the report states. “AG Paxton committed no crime.”

Understandably, the whistleblowers begged to differ in a statement their attorneys supplied the Texas Tribune.

“Notably, whoever in Paxton’s office wrote this report was not willing to put their name on it. Of course, the one-sided internal report is full of half-truths, outright lies, and glaring omissions,” the statement read. “It is a half-baked self-exoneration by Paxton, who continues to use taxpayer dollars to delay and hide from simple document requests and depositions and pay private lawyers to keep the federal investigation quiet. The truth will come out, but you won’t get it from Ken Paxton.”

Who's right? The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but they do turn. And as they do, Texans will get their answer.

In the meantime, the report from Paxton's office is unlikely to hold much weight in the courts, and it's unlikely the FBI gives a wet shit. The document isn't going to help Paxton as he faces a separate felony securities fraud indictment that's dragged out in court for years.

And it remains to be seen just how much credence Texas voters are likely to give the office's glowing character reference as Paxton heads into election season.

The AG faces Republican primary challenges from both Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, who clearly smell blood in the water. During the June kickoff for Bush's campaign, it was clear just where he thought Paxton's weaknesses lie.

"Enough is enough, Ken," Bush said. "You've brought way too much scandal and too little integrity to this office. And as a career politician for 20 years, it's time for you to go."

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