AUSTIN, Texas — At the heart of the impeachment articles against suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton is his relationship with Nate Paul. Paul is a campaign donor and real estate developer based in Austin.

Paxton’s accused of using his power to help Paul prevent a federal investigation into his business – which was raided by the FBI in 2019. And that Paul bribed Paxton by funding a home remodel and giving a job to the woman with whom Paxton was allegedly having an extramarital affair.

These accusations all came to light largely from a group of eight people who were fired from top jobs at Paxton’s agency.

Four of them — Blake Brickman, Ryan Vassar, Mark Penley and David Maxwell — filed a lawsuit in 2020 arguing that the Texas Whistleblower Act protected them from retaliation after reporting Paxton’s actions with Paul to law enforcement.

Paxton agreed to pay $3.3 million to the whistleblowers to end the lawsuit. But when he asked state lawmakers to approve using taxpayer money to fund it, it raised eyebrows and triggered a secret inquiry by a House committee that set the impeachment process in motion.

On May 27, the Republican-led Texas House overwhelmingly voted to impeach Paxton on articles including bribery and abuse of public trust.

House investigators recently unveiled thousands of pages of evidence against Paxton. Some include detailed accounts of the whistleblowers’ conversations with Paxton, allegedly urging him to cut ties with Paul.

One document notes a top deputy warned Paxton that Paul was using the agency to divert from his own legal troubles and that Paxton could face legal trouble if he helped. According to the memo, Paxton rejected those concerns and expressed trust in Paul because they had both been the targets of law enforcement probes.

Paxton also faces criminal securities fraud charges. In June, Paul was indicted on federal financial crimes. The FBI is also investigating Paxton for his ties to Paul. Both men say they’ve done nothing wrong.

But the lawyers arguing for Paxton’s removal will try to prove otherwise. The Dallas Morning News obtained a copy of the potential witness list which includes the whistleblowers and Paul. The trial begins Sept. 5.