The FBI on Thursday arrested a businessman in the wake of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment, a move that came amid new questions about the men’s dealings raised by financial records the Republican’s lawyers made public to try to clear him of bribery allegations.
Real estate developer Nate Paul, 36, was taken into custody by federal agents Thursday afternoon. For the moment it remains unclear what the exact charges are, but records showed Paul was being held on a federal detainer for a felony.
Paul was mentioned directly in 6 of the 20 articles of impeachment filed against Paxton.
Neither the FBI nor Paul’s Lawyers responded to requests for additional comments. A spokesman for federal prosecutors in West Texas also declined to comment. Dan Cogdell, one of Paxton’s defense attorneys, said he had no additional information on the arrest.
In 2020, eight of Paxton’s top deputies reported him to the FBI on allegations of bribery, and misuse of office power, centered around the allegation that Paul paid for Paxton’s house renovation.
Paul has denied bribing Paxton.
The allegations formed the basis of the articles of impeachment overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives in late May, despite strong criticism from several Republicans who objected to the manner in which the process was handled.
“If it is right to impeach Ken Paxton, it is being done in the wrong way,” Rep. Matt Schaefer stated.
On Wednesday, Paxton’s defense team presented a packed room of journalists with a bank statement with the intention of disproving the allegation that Paul paid for the $120,000 worth of renovations at Paxton’s Austin home.
However, the wire transfer was dated Oct. 1, 2020, the same day Paxton’s deputies formally notified the head of human resources at Paxton’s office that they had reported their boss to the FBI. In addition, Cupertino Builders, the company to which the payment was made, did not incorporate as a business in Texas until Oct. 20, three weeks after the wire transfer was made.
Tony Buzbee, the prominent Houston attorney who led the news conference, wrote in a Thursday email that the receipts “clearly demonstrate” that Paxton paid for the home renovation himself, ignoring questions about Cupertino Builders and the timing of the payment.
“Without any evidence the politicians leading this sham impeachment falsely accused General Paxton of not paying for the repairs to his home. That is a lie,” Buzbee said.
Texas corporation records show that Cupertino Builders dissolved in 2022. Narsimha Raju Sagiraju, its manager, served prison time for securities fraud and grand theft in California before moving to Austin. In a deposition for an unrelated case, Sagiraju said he did “consulting” work for Paul’s business.
The city has no record of building permits from the time of the renovations at Paxton’s.
Paxton remains temporarily suspended pending the outcome of a Texas Senate trial due at the end of August. The jury will be the members of the 31-seat Senate; among them, Paxton’s wife, Sen. Angela Paxton.
Paxton, who took office in 2015 and was elected to his third term last year, was indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015 in a different court case, for which he has yet to stand trial.
Paul’s home and businesses were raided by the FBI in 2019 for unknown reasons. He was not charged at the time.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.