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The Texas House investigation into impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton has reportedly widened to include a series of property purchases he made as he faced a federal probe over allegations that he abused his office.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Paxton, his wife and a family trust doled out nearly $3.5 million on six properties from July 2021 to April 2022 in Oklahoma, Florida, Utah and Hawaii. The timing and amount of money drew the attention of House investigators, according to the newspaper.
In late September 2020, several of Paxton’s top aides reported to the FBI that they believed he was misusing his office to help a wealthy campaign donor, Austin real estate investor Nate Paul. Those allegations are tied to most of the 20 articles of impeachment that the House approved last month.
Paxton’s lead lawyer, Tony Buzbee, told the Journal that Paxton was using “long-term savings from a brokerage account” to invest in real estate at a time when interest rates were low. “There is nothing more to it than that,” Buzbee said.
Paxton was suspended from office when the House voted to impeach, and Gov. Greg Abbott appointed John Scott, the former Texas secretary of state, to serve as interim attorney general.
The Texas Senate has scheduled a Sept. 5 trial on whether to permanently remove Paxton from office.
Under trial rules the Senate adopted last week, the House can bring additional articles of impeachment up to 30 days before the trial.
The Journal report shines light on a dozen subpoenas that the House General Investigating Committee issued on the second-to-last day of the regular legislative session. One of the subpoena targets was the Esther Blind Trust, which Ken Paxton and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, are beneficiaries of, according to his 2021 personal financial disclosure. Another subpoena was issued for Charles Loper, the trustee.
The financial disclosure also said the trust was created in 2015 and that it has a fair market value of “at least $46,580 or more.”
Ken Paxton reported in the disclosure that he and his wife owned four properties in 2021 — two in Austin, one in McKinney and one in College Station. The disclosure did not show any properties outside of Texas.
Ken Paxton’s personal financial disclosure for 2022 is due Friday.
Local property-tax records confirm at least some of the purchases cited in the Journal’s reporting. Records in Maui County, Hawaii, show the trust owns a parcel of land there worth almost $600,000, while records in Marion County, Florida, show the trust owns a home there worth more than $200,000.
Disclosure: Tony Buzbee has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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