Texas AG Wanted His Office to Probe Feds Investigating Him, Witness Testifies

The former deputy general for law enforcement for suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton te
AP Photos

The former deputy attorney general for law enforcement for suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton testified that Paxton wanted the office to investigate federal investigators who were investigating his donor and him.

Mark Penley testified that General Paxton asked him and former Texas Ranger David Maxwell to investigate federal investigators investigating his donor, Nate Paul. Some of these investigators were the same officials investigating Paxton in association with his pending securities fraud case.

Maxwell served as the Deputy Director of the Law Enforcement Division, Texas Office of Attorney General before Paxton fired him for refusing to engage in the investigation, Breitbart Texas reported.

Penley served 16 years as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and was on active duty for five years. He worked in two of the largest law firms in Texas, where he practiced general commercial law and tort litigation. Mr. Penley also introduced himself to the senate jurors by detailing his deep Christian faith.

The former head of law enforcement at the Office of Attorney General (OAG) detailed how Paxton wanted him to meet at a coffee shop in Highland Park in Dallas to discuss “a friend of mine.” When Penley arrived at the coffee shop, Paxton asked him to go to the car. While there, Paxton called Nate Paul, and Penley could hear the conversation. He could hear Nate Paul describing raids at his home and business properties.

When asked what he was thinking then, Penley answered, “Why is the Attorney General involved in this? Why is he wanting me to be involved in this?” He added he thought it was very odd that someone under federal investigation would have the Texas Attorney General’s attention this way.

Nate thought he was a “target” of federal officials and that they had altered a signed search warrant to broaden the search of his home and properties.

Later, Penley told Paul, “I represent the State of Texas, I am not your lawyer, and I cannot give you legal advice.”

Penley testified that it would be “crazy” and “insane” if the State of Texas investigated a federal magistrate judge, federal prosecutors, and federal investigators the way Natin “Nate” Paul wanted OAG top deputies to. Penley knew the federal agent involved in the search warrant from when he was a federal prosecutor in Dallas.

Penley testified one of the groups investigating Paul “was the very agency that had been involved against General Paxton.” At least one of the federal investigators involved in an investigation of Paxton in the federal securities case was also investigating Nate Paul, he explained.

Of the 20 impeachment articles, four relating to Paxton’s alleged securities crimes are being held in abeyance pending the end of the trial.

Penley also testified that he did not feel he could “ethically” sign a contract for the OAG to hire outside counsel to investigate his donor’s investigators. He said he told the AG he “can not sign it” and “respectfully, he will not sign it.”

The deputy attorney general for law enforcement said he told his boss, the Attorney General, that this was “a very dangerous investigation for [the AG].” Penley testified he warned the AG that he looked like he was being bribed, there could be a media scandal, and told him about other concerns and that there was no ethical or legal reason they should do Nate Paul’s desired investigation.

Penley called Paxton “passive-aggressive,” explaining that Paxton would one day tell him he agreed with Penley about his recommendations and assessments of Nate Paul, and then he would find out Paxton was “not with you, but he would not tell you.”


The Texas House General Investigating Committee started the impeachment process on May 25 with a unanimous vote for 20 articles of impeachment. As reported by Breitbart Texas, the House committee charged Paxton with bribery, obstruction of justice, disregard of official duty, misuse of public resources, abuse of the judicial process, making false statements in official records in response to whistleblower’s claims, conspiracy and attempted conspiracy, misappropriating public resources, acting contrary to the public interest, unfitness of office, dereliction of duty and abuse of the public trust. Articles 11-14, relating to the 2015 criminal charges Paxton faces regarding private business deals in 2011 and 2012, will be held in abeyance. Senators must vote on each of the remaining 16 articles individually.

Many of the articles of impeachment relate to Paxton’s alleged dealings with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul. FBI agents arrested Paul in June on charges of false statements to financial institutions and understating the value of his bank accounts and other assets. Paul donated $25,000 to Paxton’s campaign and is the employer of Paxton’s alleged mistress.

Video archives of the impeachment proceedings can be found on the Texas Senate Impeachment website. The articles of Impeachment, the Rules of Procedure for the Court of Impeachment, the witness list, all motions filed by the House Board of Managers and Paxton’s defense team, exhibits, and other potential evidence are posted on the Texas Senate Court of Impeachment website.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She is a trial lawyer who practices criminal defense and family law in East Texas. She served as a Texas prosecutor and family court associate judge in Harris County, Texas.


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