“The complaint filed against Attorney General Paxton was done to impede an ongoing investigation into criminal wrongdoing by public officials including employees of this office,” the statement said. “Making false claims is a very serious matter and we plan to investigate this to the fullest extent of the law.”
Mr. Paxton, one of the state’s highest-profile elected officials, casts himself as a conservative warrior. He appears often on Fox News and boasts of close ties to the president. Texas is leading the latest major challenge to the Affordable Care Act to reach the Supreme Court. In recent weeks, he has pushed to stop a county clerk from sending out unsolicited ballots, as he raised concerns about election fraud, and has challenged various coronavirus restrictions local governments have imposed.
The complaint is the latest turbulence affecting the Republican Party in Texas, which has a monopoly on statewide offices and controls both houses of the State Legislature but has been rocked by scandal and rived by intramural conflicts, particularly over coronavirus precautions.
The accusations against Mr. Paxton were leveled in the letter that was sent last week to state human resources officials in which the aides said they had “knowledge of facts relevant to these potential offenses” and reported them to the authorities. Federal law enforcement officials have declined to confirm that an investigation is underway.
The letter was signed by seven of the highest-ranking officials in the Attorney General’s Office, including the first assistant attorney general, Jeffrey C. Mateer, who resigned last week to join the First Liberty Institute, a religious freedom advocacy organization, to focus on elevating conservatives onto the federal bench. (Mr. Mateer’s own nomination to become a federal judge was withdrawn in 2017 after news organizations, including The Dallas Morning News, reported he had made disparaging comments about gay people and referred to transgender children as evidence of “Satan’s plan.”)
None of the officials who signed the letter responded to messages seeking comment. The Texas Tribune reported on Sunday that one of the signatories, Ryan L. Bangert, the deputy first assistant attorney general, sent a message across the attorney general’s office encouraging the staff to continue “its important work without interruption.”
It is unclear if the allegations are related to those at the heart of Mr. Paxton’s indictment in 2015, in which he was charged with two counts of first-degree securities fraud and one count of third-degree failure to register with the state securities board.