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Austin real estate developer at center of Ken Paxton’s impeachment arrested pending federal charge

Julia Reihs

Nate Paul, the Austin-based businessman at the center of suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment, was arrested Thursday in Travis County.

According to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Paul was arrested by the FBI and booked at 4:25 Thursday afternoon. Records list Paul on a “federal detainer” on unknown felony charges.

Paul was still in custody as of 8:30 p.m. An attorney for Paul didn’t immediately return a request for comment from The Texas Newsroom. The FBI also declined to comment.

The reason for the arrest — and whether it's connected to Paxton and his impeachment — is currently unclear.

In recent years, Paul and his company World Class Holdings have been involved in several controversies. Since 2019, Paul has been sued by multiple investors and, according to Forbes, the FBI raided “Paul’s sprawling 9,175-square-foot Austin home (and) the downtown Austin offices of his World Class Holdings” that same year.

Lately, Paul has been mentioned in news reports because of his ties to Paxton, who was suspended after his impeachment.

Paxton was impeached by the Republican-led Texas House of Representatives after investigators accused Paxton of a long list of crimes and violations, including constitutional bribery, dereliction of duty and misapplication of public resources.

Most of the allegations are related to Paul, one of Paxton’s political donors.

Attorneys for Paxton didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Texas Newsroom.

According to investigators, in 2019, Paxton asked his top deputies for legal advice on a disputed records request involving Paul. The real estate developer asked for access to sealed information concerning a search warrant by federal agents against himself.

Paxton’s advisors told the attorney general to not release the documents, House investigators said. However, the Republican later hired an outside attorney to issue grand jury subpoenas to help Paul in his fight against the federal government.

In 2020, Paxton also asked his office to draft an opinion on whether foreclosure sales violated the COVID-19 restrictions in place during that time. At the time, Paul had several homes at risk of foreclosure.

"The whistleblowers believe that the only logical reason was that General Paxton wanted the opinion completed before the foreclosure sales," investigator Mark Donnelly said last month.

Eventually, the top deputies reported Paxton to the FBI. They were later fired.

The whistleblowers then sued the Office of the Attorney General and recently reached a $3.3 million settlement. However, the Texas Legislature has not funded the agreement.

Copyright 2023 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán