Ex-top aide to Texas AG: ‘Shocked’ at his legal intervention

FILE - State Attorney General Ken Paxton waits on the flight line for the arrival of Vice President Mike Pence at Love Field in Dallas, Sunday, June 28, 2020. Several top deputies of Texas’ attorney general have accused him of crimes including bribery and abuse of office in an internal letter saying they’ve reported the actions to law enforcement. In a brief letter, seven senior lawyers wrote that they reported Paxton for potentially breaking the law “in his official capacity as the current Attorney General of Texas." Paxton’s defense attorney in the securities case, declined to comment on the new allegations Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. Paxton pleaded not guilty in that case but it is not clear whether the new accusations are related. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A former aide to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday spoke out for the first time since he stepped down after accusing the state’s top lawyer of crimes including bribery and abuse of office.

Jeff Mateer, the Republican attorney general’s former top aide, told the Dallas Morning News in an interview that in July he initially had concerns about his boss’ conduct when he learned that Paxton wanted to get involved personally in a case against Nate Paul, a Texas real estate developer.

Paul, a Paxton campaign donor, was under federal investigation in a case between an Austin nonprofit and his entities, the newspaper reported Friday. Paxton planned to personally argue a motion in Travis County court, Mateer said, which he noted was alarming. Mateer said Paxton’s top staff subsequently advised him against doing that.

“I was shocked,” Mateer told the Dallas Morning News after resigning this month. “That, in my memory, no attorney general has ever done.”

Mateer added that Paxton’s plan was so concerning that he met with him and told him to cut ties with Paul, and Paxton agreed.

“I was hopeful that General Paxton was not going to have any further personal involvement with any matters that the office was handling that relate to Mr. Paul,” Mateer told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Ian Prior, Paxton’s campaign spokesman, said the attorney general’s intervention was an effort to “encourage a settlement to stop the wasting of assets that were being diverted from charitable beneficiaries to lawyers.”

Mateer and six other lawyers under Paxton sent the head of human resources a letter saying they reported the attorney general to “the appropriate law enforcement authority” for potentially breaking the law “in his official capacity.” They accused Paxton of bribery, abuse of office and improper influence. Mateer has since resigned.

Paxton has denied all wrongdoing. Paxton has been urged to resign since the allegations were revealed, but he refuses to leave his post. He blamed his “rogue employees and their false allegations.”