Aides accuse Texas AG Ken Paxton of bribery, abuse of office

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is facing criminal accusations of bribery and abuse of power from his own top aides.

Seven executives at the office of the state’s top prosecutor are seeking a federal investigation into Paxton’s behavior, they wrote in a letter to their director of human resources obtained Saturday by the Austin American-Statesman.

“We have a good faith belief that the attorney general is violating federal and/or state law including prohibitions related to improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses,” the staffers wrote in the Thursday letter.

Signees include Paxton’s first assistant, Jeff Mateer, who resigned Friday, Mateer’s deputy, Ryan Bangert, as well as five deputy attorneys general: James Blake Brickman, Lacey Mase, Darren McCarty, Mark Penley and Ryan Vassar.

The group said they were blowing the whistle on Paxton’s behavior to protect their work; they didn’t elaborate on specific instances of wrongdoing, according to the Statesman.

Paxton, a Republican, is already facing legal trouble. He was indicted back in 2015 on federal charges over alleged securities fraud.

The 57-year-old prosecutor told the Statesman the letter was untrue and only sent to obfuscate an ongoing investigation into employees at his office.

“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,” Paxton said.

“Making false claims is a very serious matter and we plan to investigate this to the fullest extent of the law.”