AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — One of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton 's former staffers testified Monday that the Republican's extramarital affair took a toll on employees who had to work long and odd hours because of the secret relationship that is now a factor in his impeachment trial.
“I told General Paxton quite bluntly it wasn’t my business who he was sleeping with, but when things bleed over into the office and into the state work, it becomes my business,” said Katherine Cary, the former chief of staff in Paxton's office.
The affair is part of the abuse of power and bribery charges that Texas House Republicans have made against Paxton after years of alleged scandal and corruption. If convicted, he could be banned from holding office again in Texas. His fate is in the hands of the Republican-controlled Texas Senate, where a verdict could happen as soon as this week.
His wife, Angela Paxton, is a senator but is barred from voting in the proceedings. She sat at her desk on the chamber floor while Cary described how she warned Ken Paxton that his affair carried legal and political risks.
Paxton had the affair with a woman who worked for local developer Nate Paul, whose relationship with one of Texas' most powerful figures is central to the impeachment trial. Through five days of testimony, five of Paxton's former aides have testified how Paxton allegedly pressured them in various ways to help Paul, who was under FBI investigation and once gave Paxton a $25,000 campaign contribution.
Tony Buzbee, Paxton's attorney, challenged Cary on cross examination about the importance an affair should have in an impeachment trial.
“Imagine if we impeached everyone in Austin who had an affair," Buzbee said. “We’d be impeaching people for the next 100 years.”
Paxton, who has pleaded not guilty, is not required to be present for testimony and was again not in the Senate on Monday. Paxton was once a senator before becoming attorney general in 2015 and still has conservative allies in the chamber.
Cary was the first witness in the trial who was not one of eight former Paxton aides who reported him to the FBI in 2020. Later Monday, a former public corruption prosecutors in the district attorney's office in Austin took the witness stand as the trial began a second week.
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is presiding over the trial, said as the trial resumed Monday that the case was on track to go to the jury as soon as later this week. Patrick also said there will be no more days off until the trial is resolved, raising the possibility that a decision could come over the weekend.
Paxton was indicted on felony securities fraud charges in 2015 and has been under FBI investigation since an extraordinary revolt by his top deputies five years later.
Mark Penley, one of those former deputies, took the witness stand first Monday and was the latest to recount allegations of Paxton pressuring them to help Paul, who had given Paxton a $25,000 campaign contribution.
Paul, who was indicted in June on charges of defrauding banks, had accused FBI agents and a judge of wrongdoing. Penley said he wanted no part of it.
"That we would investigate a federal magistrate judge, and federal prosecutors, is insane,” Penley said.
Find AP's full coverage of the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at: https://apnews.com/hub/ken-paxton