FBI Probe of Texas AG Expands to Look at Home Renovations

DALLAS (AP) -- The FBI is investigating renovations made to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's million-dollar home as part of an ongoing probe into allegations that the state's highest-ranking attorney illegally helped a wealthy donor, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

Last year, much of Paxton's senior staff accused him of committing crimes to help Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, whom some of the Republican's former deputies now say had a hand in work done on Paxton's home. Following the remarkable revolt that riled Texas politics, all of Paxton's accusers quit or were fired and four later sued the attorney general under the state's whistleblower law.

In a revised court complaint filed Thursday, the group suing Paxton said they have information to suggest Paul “was involved in” the 2020 remodeling of a home in an affluent Austin neighborhood that Paxton purchased in 2018. They do not spell out what this evidence is nor detail Paul's alleged role in the renovation.

The claim sheds new light on a possible motive for the acts that have brought Texas' top lawyer under federal scrutiny. And the FBI has taken interest.

At least one Austin contractor recently received a federal grand jury subpoena for records related to work on Paxton's home, according to a document obtained by the AP and a person familiar with the matter. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

The subpoena calls on the contractor to testify before a grand jury and to provide invoices, communications, receipts, payment records and other documents. The FBI declined to comment.

Paxton's defense attorney, Philip Hilder, declined to comment. Paxton has not been charged with a crime in the FBI probe, and the attorney general has broadly denied wrongdoing.

Paul's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Paul gave $25,000 to Paxton's 2018 reelection campaign and employs a woman with whom the attorney general allegedly had an extramarital affair, but the full nature of their relationship remains unclear. According to the lawsuit, the woman works as a construction project manager.

Paul has been under FBI investigation since at least 2019. Last year, he launched a campaign of counter allegations against the agents, federal judges and other businessmen and officials.

Paxton hired an outside lawyer to investigate these claims in September before dropping the case when it became public. The hire was one of four acts that appeared to help Paul and prompted Paxton's eight top deputies to report him to the FBI for alleged abuse of office and bribery.

Paxton has positioned himself nationally as a conservative crusader. He was a close ally of former President Donald Trump, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate Electoral College votes in battleground states in Trump's baseless effort to overturn Joe Biden's win. Paxton also brought one of the first lawsuits against the new presidential administration, moving to halt Biden's 100-day moratorium on deportations.

The attorney general has spent most of his time in office under felony indictment. Paxton pleaded not guilty in 2015 to three state securities fraud charges but is yet to face trial.