A letter from several key aides accuses the attorney general of Texas of bribery, abuse of power and several other potentially criminal acts.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, the letter was sent as a notice to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office that a “potential violation of law” had been reported to the “appropriate law enforcement authority.” The letter was sent on Thursday to the office’s human resources department to protect the jobs of those who signed.
Among the signees were Paxton’s first assistant, Jeff Mateer, who resigned Friday, and Mateer’s deputy Ryan Bangert. James Blake Brickman, Lacey Mase, Darren McCarty, Mark Penley, and Ryan Vassar also signed the document. All five are deputy attorneys general overseeing the office’s policy, administration, civil litigation, criminal investigations, and legal counsel divisions.
“We have a good faith belief that the Attorney General is violating federal and/or state law, including prohibitions relating to improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses,” the letter reads. The letter adds that Paxton was personally informed on Thursday via text message that law enforcement had been notified of the potential violation.
The letter comes as somewhat of a shock as the Texas attorney general’s office prides loyalty, especially from those in Paxton’s inner circle, the American-Statesmen notes. As the attorney general’s second-in-command Mateer was seen as being in lockstep with Paxton’s conservative views. When Mateer was nominated by President Trump to be a federal judge in 2017, Paxton called him “a principled leader—a man of character—who has done an outstanding job for the State of Texas.”
The nomination was revoked after Mateer was found to have made various anti-LGBTQ remarks over the years.
Paxton was previously indicted in 2015 for securities fraud, a case that has yet to go to trial. The 57-year-old Republican was first elected in 2014 and secured reelection in 2018 during a closer than expected race. Paxton’s office released a statement on Saturday denying the allegations.
“The complaint filed against Attorney General Paxton was done to impede an ongoing investigation into criminal wrongdoing by public officials including employees of this office,” the statement read. “Making false claims is a very serious matter and we plan to investigate this to the fullest extent of the law.”
The letter didn’t provide details on Paxton’s alleged wrongdoing, only requesting that the proper authorities launch an investigation. The letter said that each of the signees “has knowledge of facts relevant to these potential offenses and has provided statements concerning those facts to the appropriate law enforcement.”