FBI arrests Austin real estate developer at center of Texas attorney general's impeachment

The FBI on Thursday arrested Nate Paul, a real estate developer in Austin who is at the center of suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's legal and political troubles. Paxton was impeached by the Republican-led House in May, and most of the 20 articles center on allegations Paxton corruptly used his office to aide Paul, a major donor. Paul, 36, was booked in a Travis County jail Thursday afternoon on a federal warrant for unspecified felony charges.

The FBI has been investigating Paul at least since it raided his home and business offices in 2019 alongside Treasury Department agents. In 2020, top employees in Paxton's office told the FBI that the attorney general was using his office to run legal interference for Paul and help his struggling real estate empire. The FBI then opened an ongoing investigation of Paxton.

Along with donating $25,000 to Paxton in October 2018, Paul is accused of paying for an extensive 2020 remodel of an Austin house Paxton and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton (R), bought in 2018, and for facilitating Paxton's extramarital affair by hiring his mistress. The attorney general's office officials who blew the whistle on Paxton were either fired, suspended or quit. Four of them sued Paxton for wrongful termination, Paxton settled with them in January and then asked the Legislature to finance the $3.3 million payout. A House committee then quietly investigated Paxton, leading to his impeachment.

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It isn't clear if Paul's arrest was tied to the Paxton allegations. The Justice Department declined to comment on the arrest. Dan Cogdell, an impeachment lawyer for Paxton, told The Dallas Morning News he assumes the charges against Paul are related to the Paxton investigation. "You don't have to be Nostradamus to assume that they're going to try to flip Nate Paul to testify against Ken," he said. "I don't know that for a fact. But I'd be very surprised if that wasn't the case. ... Because otherwise, you know, logically [the FBI] would have arrested them both at the same time."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.