Ken Paxton, seen in profile in a blue suit jacket and black backpack, has a somewhat goofy, tongue-in-lips expression as he hoists his bag and carries it out of a courtroom.
(Photo by Reginald Mathalone/NurPhoto via AP)

The Ken Paxton Files: What’s in House Investigators’ New Trove of Impeachment Evidence?

Nearly 4,000 pages of exhibits paint the clearest picture yet of the allegations against the attorney general for prolific abuse of power, bribery, philandering, and apparent coverups.


Part of our coverage of the impeachment of Ken Paxton.

Late last Thursday, the Texas Senate uploaded exhibits from the state House investigators for the upcoming impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton.

It was a document dump of epic proportions, comprising nearly 4,000 pages of records, ranging from blockbuster interview transcripts from marquee witnesses; emails from Paxton’s friend and Austin real estate mogul Nate Paul, his attorney, and the so-called special prosecutor personally appointed by Paxton, Brandon Cammack, working in close coordination to carry out an “official” governmental investigation on behalf of Paul; records from Uber documenting the attorney general’s various trips—using a pseudonymous account that was accessed by both Paxton and Paul—to travel to and from his alleged girlfriend’s Austin apartment, among other destinations.

Together, the trove of new evidence provides the clearest picture yet of the long and winding tale of alleged corruption that forms the basis of the House’s case to remove Paxton from office, including his allegedly corrupt friendship with and bumbling efforts to protect Paul, which led to four of his top deputies blowing the whistle to federal authorities, their subsequent filing of a state whistleblower civil lawsuit, an ongoing FBI investigation, and, most recently, the Texas House’ overwhelming vote to impeach Paxton in May partly on numerous articles stemming from this relationship, including abuse of office and bribery. 

Despite repeated warnings from his top deputies to stay away from the developer, the impeachment documents show Paxton carried out several extraordinary official actions for Paul, and is alleged to have received favors from him in return—including a job for Paxton’s mistress and expensive renovations to Paxton’s Austin home. 

The impeachment documents show Paxton carried out several extraordinary official actions for Paul, and is alleged to have received favors from him in return.

The evidence chronicles in great detail, according to House investigators,“the extensive steps Paxton used to morph the Office of the Attorney General into Paul’s concierge law firm and, along the way, cover up his abuse of the office.”

The saga stretches back at least to the summer of 2020, when Paxton first began carrying out a series of unusual maneuvers, basically wielding the full power of the Office of the Attorney General at Paul’s behest—including intervention in ongoing litigation with an investor in one of Paul’s bankrupt properties; an official state investigation into Paul’s wide-ranging grievances involving federal and state law enforcement’s raid of his home and offices in 2019 as well as their investigation into his perceived business enemies; personally intervening in an open records request from Paul and crafting a legal opinion that favored Paul’s business entities; and allegedly sharing confidential documents with Paul regarding the ongoing FBI investigation. 

The House prosecutors’ investigation against Paxton is entirely separate from any criminal allegations but form the basis of the information that will be presented in an effort to convict him in the Texas Senate and remove him from office. 

Federal law enforcement indicted and arrested Paxton’s friend Paul on charges of bank fraud. Paxton has denied all wrongdoing. The attorney general, temporarily removed from office since being impeached in May, has not been indicted on any federal charges relating to the whistleblowers’ allegations, though a federal grand jury has reportedly called witnesses relating to the Paxton case in recent weeks. 

Paxton’s moves all came despite advice and repeated warnings from his top deputies, who, according to House documents, described Paul as a “con man” out to use Paxton to gain access to the powers of his state office. 

The Texas Attorney General’s Office is the agency that ensures the public’s access to open records and open meetings. Yet the exhibits detail how Paxton employed evasive maneuvers in his dealings with Paul. He allegedly used burner phones, ditched his state security detail and strayed from his official calendar, used a secret email address, and used a fake name to take Uber rides, all apparently to hide and cover up his interactions with Paul, including apparent bribery, along with his ongoing affair with a mistress. 

The same documents provide a new level of gravitas to the House’s impeachment charges against Paxton, whose legal team has filed motions attempting to dismiss impeachment allegations as an illegal and political witch hunt that was done in secret and produced no real evidence. The Senate trial on the impeachment articles is set to begin September 5. 

Here are the key takeaways from the thousands of pages of documents that were released in response to Paxton’s effort to dismiss the impeachment charges against him as groundless.

Dave P.’s Uber Extravaganza

The exhibits include several documents obtained from the rideshare company Uber showing how Paxton and Paul shared access to a pseudonymous account under the alias “Dave P.” The records detail how Paxton used the account to shuttle himself to and from the luxury apartment complex—Pearl Lantana, which was home to his girlfriend—at least 16 times as well as numerous trips to Paul’s properties over the course of a year in 2019 and 2020, with drivers often picking him up or dropping him off just down the street from his own Austin home—apparently to avoid attention. 

On September 30, 2020, the day that Paxton’s top deputies blew the whistle to the FBI, the attorney general took a late-night Uber ride to Paul’s West Austin manse, the records show.

Paxton also took several Uber rides in Beverly Hills, California, Chicago, and Las Vegas, including visits to former President Donald Trump’s hotels in the latter two towns.

The hands of a driver in a fancy car. They hold their smarphone up, showing the Uber app logo on screen.
Documents show that the day that Ken Paxton’s top deputies blew the whistle to the FBI, the attorney general took a late-night Uber ride to Nate Paul’s West Austin manse. (Shutterstock)

Paxton’s affair–which has long been a somewhat open secret in Austin—was a sordid scandal for the purportedly staunch Christian conservative who has often used his post to lead moralizing, right-wing crusades and file oddball civil lawsuits at Texans’ expense. But it’s also at the center of allegations that Paxton took bribes from Paul. 

The exhibits provide further evidence that Paul gave a job to Paxton’s girlfriend Laura Olson, a former staffer for GOP state Senator Donna Campbell, so she could move from her home in San Antonio to be closer to Paxton. Olson, who was named recently for the first time in the documents, has not publicly responded to the allegations, nor has Campbell, her former employer. Paul had previously admitted that he hired Olson at Paxton’s recommendation to work for his real estate company as a “special projects manager.” The exhibits provide new documentation of that—including that she was hired at a salary of $65,000 to work directly for Paul. 

K-Pax’s Body Man Tells All

In one of the biggest revelations, the House managers’ evidence includes investigators’ interview with Paxton’s former executive aide, who likely was by Paxton’s side more than any other person. Drew Wicker, Paxton’s longtime body man and personal confidante, provided House investigators with significant details about the AG’s actions and relationship with Paul and his mistress. Wicker provided the most extensive details yet about allegations that Paul paid for expensive renovations to the Austin home of Paxton and his wife Angela, including conversations he overheard between Paxton and a contractor who was doing renovations on the AG’s Austin home. At one point, he said he heard talk about how the Paxtons wanted a $20,000 upgrade to their granite kitchen countertops—to which the contractor replied, “I’ll ask Nate.”

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Wicker also revealed how he later confronted Paxton over dinner at a Plano burger joint about his concerns that the AG had arranged for Paul to pay for the renovations. Paxton denied this, insisting that he was paying for it all himself. Wicker also revealed his mounting concerns with how much time and resources Paxton was personally dedicating to matters involving Paul, saying that by the summer and fall of 2020, “we were spending an increasingly large share of our calendar time focused on Nate Paul.” 

“We were spending an increasingly large share of our calendar time focused on Nate Paul.”

Wicker also recounts how he regularly ferried documents to and from meetings for Paxton, including several with Nate Paul, and how, in one instance, the AG personally directed him to courier a manila envelope—containing unknown documents—to Paul. 

His bodyman also discussed how, while Paxton was staying at the Omni Barton Creek hotel in Austin—apparently during a period of marital tumult with his wife—Wicker ran into Paxton in the elevator with a woman who was not his wife. This made Wicker think that the AG had resumed an extramarital tryst that he had admitted to his wife and colleagues in 2018 and promised to end. 

Wicker relayed the encounter to then-senior Paxton aide Marc Rylander and described the woman. Rylander replied: “Great. She’s back.”

Paxton’s body man said that Paxton regularly used “burner phones” that were not government-issued and that he commonly skirted his Department of Public Safety security detail to keep his whereabouts under wraps. 

Wicker quit soon after several of Paxton’s top deputies left and blew the whistle. 

Paxton’s “Special Prosecutor” Coordinating with Paul

One of the culminating events that led top deputies to blow the whistle on their boss was Paxton going behind his subordinates’ backs, against agency protocol, and over his deputies’ staunch objections to hire Brandon Cammack, a 34-year-old Houston attorney, as an outside counsel. Paxton then enabled the lawyer to act as a special state prosecutor to carry out a sweeping investigation into the federal and state officials—including a federal magistrate, FBI agents, and state law enforcement officers—who were involved in the 2019 raid of Paul, the records show. Cammack issued dozens of subpoenas for phone records and other material on these individuals, as well as several banks and real estate investors whom Paul believed to be conspiring to take his properties. 

The outside lawyer—Cammack—did so under the imprimatur of an official AG investigation, despite the fact that Paxton’s top deputies had refused to investigate Paul’s various allegations against the feds, and after the Travis County DA’s office reportedly kicked the matter back to the AG because it believed there was nothing to the case. After this, Paxton’s head of law enforcement vigorously refused to sign an outside counsel contract for Cammack. 

The exhibits show in stark detail how Paxton hired Cammack, an attorney who had no prosecutorial experience and had close ties with Paul’s criminal defense attorney Michael Wynne, at a rate of $300 an hour. Cammack then proceeded to carry out his investigation under the direction of  Paul and Wynne, email records and other exhibits show. Paul and Wynne provided him with a list of subpoena targets, investigative targets, and strategies, with names including “Operation Deep Sea,” “Operation Bubba,” and “Operation Longhorn”—apparently code names to investigations Paul wanted carried out against his various enemies. 

One email exchange between Wynne, Cammack, and Paul included an attached document titled “Interviews.docx” with instructions on how to proceed. “This is what I suggest we start right now. Sequence should be self-evident. Cuts straight to it,” Wynne wrote, adding deadlines by which to complete initial interviews. “Open to more calls happening today — they don’t talk, we are at their residences tomorrow.” 

Prior press reports have shown that Cammack served some subpoenas with Wynne at his side. More than one entity that received them sounded the alarm to top AG officials about Cammack’s actions. In an interview with House investigators, former Deputy Attorney General-turned-whistleblower Blake Brickman described the brazenness of Cammack’s pseudo-investigation, saying it was “shocking how egregious and blatant this is.” 

Paxton’s Wired Payment

Soon after realizing that his top deputies were preparing to alert federal criminal investigators to Paxton’s activities, on September 30, 2020, the attorney general texted the executor of his blind trust—Charles Loper—instructing him to wire payment of $121,617 to a company called Cupertino Builders. Paxton’s defense attorney Tony Buzbee has pointed to this transaction in attempts to disprove claims that Paul paid for Paxton’s home renovations to bribe him. However, those claims have only raised more questions. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the manager of this business entity was Narsimha Raju Sagiraju—better known as Raj Kumar—a friend and business associate of Paul’s. At the time of Paxton’s payment, Cupertino Builders was not registered to do business in Texas, though it filed to do so later. 

Disclosed in the House evidence, as the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday, was a federal search warrant for the 2019 FBI investigation of Paul, which included Kumar among the list of Paul’s associates to be targeted by search warrants.

The Chronicle also noted that a court-appointed receiver in a bankruptcy case involving one of Paul’s properties warned in a federal bankruptcy court filing that he suspected Kumar’s company, Cupertino Builders, may be helping to hide Paul’s money from his long list of debtors. 

Paxton Would Pay More NOT to Say, “I’m Sorry … ”

Another revelation in the reams of new exhibits: Paxton and his attorneys offered to pay more (state taxpayer-funded) money in his settlement with agency whistleblowers to get rid of a clause requiring Paxton to make a public apology. “Is there a number at which Mr. Brickman would forgo No. 3 [an apology from Paxton]?” Paxton’s attorney asked lawyers representing former deputy AG Blake Brickman. Brickman’s attorneys declined. The two sides ultimately reached a $3.3 million settlement, which would come from state coffers upon approval by the Legislature. Paxton told lawmakers that the payment was necessary to avoid even greater taxpayer costs from a drawn-out court battle. 

Paxton’s bold settlement request was not only roundly rejected by legislators—it instigated the House to launch its impeachment investigation.