Four thousand pages. That’s what Ken Paxton’s defense lawyers received as homework Thursday night around 11 p.m., after they had claimed for months that the prosecution gunning for the impeachment of the attorney general had no evidence that would support his removal from office. It appears House impeachment managers indeed had a lot to share: it took almost a full day for them to upload three tranches of exhibits supporting their case to the lieutenant governor’s special impeachment website.
So if the complete works of Marcel Proust aren’t on your summer reading list, you now have 150 exhibits—depositions! bankruptcy revelations! emails! texts!—that tell a story of Paxton’s relationship with one Nate Paul, an Austin real estate developer currently under federal indictment who is at the center of many of the articles of impeachment levied against the attorney general. The story the documents paint is as rich in character and as thorough in detail as Swann’s Way—but it is not to be considered fiction, unless you are Paxton and his defense team.
We’ve pulled out some of the main takeaways. A warning to those awaiting the trial set for September 5: spoilers ahead.
1. Paxton and Paul’s dealings
There is evidence in the filings that reveals much more than has been previously known about the attorney general’s relationship with Paul. Internal memos from 2020 show that members of Paxton’s staff warned him repeatedly to stay away from the developer. Throughout the last half of 2020, Paxton’s deputies wrote that the AG was risking the integrity of the office—not to mention his own—by associating with Paul. The term “red flag” comes up a lot. Paxton seems to have ignored those warnings.
If you’ve missed this detail in previous reporting, there’s also a firsthand interview with the Paxton aide who says he witnessed a conversation between Paxton and a contractor about renovations to Paxton’s home: it seemed to the aide that Paul had paid for them. Other documents provide details on Paxton’s hiring of a special counsel to investigate FBI officials who had raided Paul’s home.
2. Paxton’s alleged infidelity
Because Paxton has long eschewed the mainstream media, he has remained something of a cipher to the general public. Few except political donors and far-right acolytes have seen him up close and personal. Now everyone has that opportunity. Many of the exhibits relate to the impeachment article that charges that Paul hired a woman with whom Paxton allegedly was having an extramarital affair in return for “favorable legal assistance” from the attorney general.
The prosecution released Uber records from an account Paxton used under a fake name, which show him traveling to the house of his alleged mistress, Laura Olson. They also reveal him to be a man of eclectic tastes. He visited the Rio lounge, a rooftop bar in downtown Austin of which Nate Paul is listed as the owner; the Peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills; the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago; and the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. And when returning home late at night, he often was dropped off “close to [the] Paxton residence” instead of at his Tarrytown house, a nice stone bungalow—four bedrooms, three baths, and 2,375 square feet (with an outdoor fireplace and barbecue grill) with an estimated current value of $1.39 million. But despite the appeal of the high life, Paxton also seems to have a thing for fast food, stopping at or holding meetings at Church’s fried chicken, Dunkin’, and Panera Bread.
The penchants and preferences of other key players, namely Olson, come to life as well. The prosecution has suggested that Paul hired her as a manager on some of his projects as yet another favor to the AG. (In one deposition, Paul says he doesn’t know exactly which projects.) Indeed, her lease agreements from August 2020 to November 2023 show that Olson moved from San Antonio to Austin, taking up residence at the Pearl Lantana apartment complex, which, according to its website, is “surrounded by lush greenery and enjoys striking views of downtown” and offers, among many other amenities, a “relaxing hammock area adjacent to [the] pool.” The prosecution also presented her employment contract for $65,000 a year with Paul’s World Class Property Company.
3. More on Nate Paul
Those curious about Paul in real life (as opposed to in legal pleadings) can catch him on videotape—exhibit two—in which he flatters a former Texas Ranger and director of law enforcement for the AG. “I love your persistence,” Paul tells David M. Maxwell, famous for spending more than two decades tracking down his own sister’s killer. The flattery was apparently to no avail, because Maxwell became one of the men to blow the whistle regarding Paxton and Paul’s relationship.
Paul’s bankruptcy filings are also extremely well documented, as is a collection of photos titled “Vehicles Appear Purchased With Company Money,” which include a Bentley Mulsanne, a Ford F-250 Super Duty, a Porsche Cayenne, a Lamborghini Huracán, a Range Rover, and a meager Lexus IS 250. The man has a thing for nice cars.
Sorry, Mr. Proust. You’re no competition for a good Texas scandal.
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