The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking over an investigation into corruption allegations against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), a state prosecutor handling a separate case case against Paxton told The Hill.
Kent Schaffer, the state prosecutor, confirmed the DOJ was taking over the case from federal prosecutors in the Western District of Texas.
It’s unclear why federal prosecutors in Texas were removed from the case, which was opened after several of Paxton’s senior officials accused him of bribery and abuse of office in 2020, but The Associated Press reported Paxton’s attorney’s sought the change, claiming there was an “obvious conflict.”
FBI agents and federal prosecutors in the Western District of Texas were also involved in a 2019 search of the home of Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who donated to Paxton’s 2018 campaign.
After Paul accused the agents and prosecutors of improperly raiding his home, Paxton appointed a special counsel to investigate the claims over objections by members of his staff. This appointment was one of several instances that ultimately led eight of Paxton’s employees to accuse him of bribery and abuse of office.
Paul reportedly also employed a woman with whom Paxton has acknowledged having an extramarital affair and was accused of playing a role in the remodel of Paxton’s Austin home, according to the AP. Paxton has denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
The changeover in the corruption investigation comes one week after Paxton reached a tentative $3.3 million settlement with four of the former employees, who were fired after reporting the Texas attorney general to the FBI.