Mr. Paul, 33, and the real-estate investment firm that he founded, World Class Holdings, were among the largest owners of real estate in Austin, with an empire that included the 3M Company’s former corporate campus. Law enforcement officials have declined to discuss why they raided Mr. Paul’s home and offices last year. Mr. Paul’s lawyer has alleged that investigators broke the law by tampering with government records, among other things, when they obtained a search warrant and conducted the raid.
After the search, Mr. Paxton personally approached the Travis County District Attorney’s office to arrange a meeting between Mr. Paul and local prosecutors to discuss his complaints about the raids, according to Margaret Moore, the district attorney, who said Mr. Paxton also attended the meeting. Because one of the agencies Mr. Paul was complaining about was the state’s Department of Public Safety, the prosecutors said the only appropriate agency to review it was the attorney general’s office.
Mr. Paxton appointed a special prosecutor to investigate his friend’s allegations.
Not long after the whistle-blower complaint, Mr. Paxton’s office closed the investigation — but by then, many people were asking why it had been opened to begin with.
“Why is it, simply because somebody is complaining about the F.B.I., that the attorney general is opening an investigation?” said Kenneth Magidson, who served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas from 2011 to 2017. “He has used the office of the attorney general to help his friend.”
Mr. Paxton told The New York Times in a statement that the latest controversy was created by members of his staff who had opposed his decisions without having all the facts and who made “their disagreement noisy and public” in an attempt to undermine the integrity of the office. “To be clear: I have never been motivated by a desire to protect a political donor or to abuse this office, nor will I ever,” he said.
Mr. Paxton has said that his involvement in the case began after Travis County prosecutors referred Mr. Paul’s accusations to him in June.
“When the Travis County District Attorney referred the F.B.I.’s search and seizure of a private citizen’s residence and property to my office for further investigation, I was deeply concerned by many of the things that I saw,” he said. “Given the facts and the district attorney’s office’s belief that further investigation was warranted, I believed that an independent investigation, through the hiring of outside counsel, was the proper course of action.”