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Paxton trial updates: Credit union CEO alleges donor benefited from “surprising” AG opinion

By Texas Tribune Staff, The Texas Tribune

Paxton trial updates: Credit union CEO alleges donor benefited from “surprising” AG opinion” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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The historic impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton is underway in the Texas Senate. He faces 16 articles of impeachment that accuse him of misusing the powers of the attorney general’s office to help his friend and donor Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor who was under federal investigation.

Paxton pleaded not guilty to all impeachment articles on the trial’s first day. His defense attorneys have vowed to disprove the accusations and said they will present evidence showing they are based on assumptions, not facts.

Credit union CEO alleges Nate Paul benefited from “surprising” attorney general opinion prohibiting foreclosures during pandemic

House managers called their 11th witness in the impeachment trial: Kendall Garrison, chief executive officer of Amplify Credit Union. His testimony focused on three properties owned by Nate Paul that faced foreclosure because Paul had stopped repaying his loans. Garrison testified the outstanding loans totaled around $11.5 million.

Amplify had posted to sell the properties at auction on Aug. 4.

On Aug. 3, Paul sent Amplify employees an email with a link to an attorney general opinion prohibiting foreclosure during the pandemic, which Garrison said his office dubbed the “midnight” opinion. The opinion, which was published in record time, stated that foreclosure sales could not continue due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“It was surprising to see a ruling issued on a Sunday morning that essentially prohibited foreclosures in the state of Texas,” Garrison said. The bank withdrew the foreclosure sales, but eventually sold them in September.

“Who benefitted from the foreclosure letter?” asked Erin Epley, a lawyer for the House.

“Nate Paul and the World Class Entities,” Garrison said.

During cross examination, Paxton’s lawyers pushed back against that claim and tried to cast doubt on Garrison’s testimony by pointing out Amplify did not lose any money in the eventual foreclosure sales.

Kate McGee

Houston attorney says Paxton misled and then stiffed him

Brandon Cammack, the Houston attorney that Ken Paxton hired to investigate Nate Paul’s adversaries, testified that Paul’s lawyer provided him with a list of people to subpoena and that, after he received two cease and desist letters, he was told by the Attorney General’s Office that he’d have to “eat” a $14,000 invoice for his work.

Cammack said he became increasingly concerned that he was being misled about why he had been hired after he was visited by U.S. marshals, and felt like he’d “gotten the rug pulled out from me.”

He was asked to drive at the last minute from Houston to Austin for a meeting at Paul’s home. Paxton was there wearing running shorts, but spent most of the time talking on the phone outside. Cammack said he received little new information about what was expected of him, why U.S. marshals had contacted him or why he hadn’t been paid yet.

Cammack also lamented Paxton’s decision to involve him in the Paul matter, saying his name was dragged through the mud, that it hurt him professionally and that the only thing he received in return were two cease and desist letters.

“I had a whole entire life before all of this,” he said.

– Robert Downen

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