AUSTIN, Texas — Another key player in the Ken Paxton impeachment trial took the stand Wednesday to testify about his former boss's relationships with Nate Paul, the Austin real estate developer at the center of bribery allegations, and his alleged mistress Laura Olson.
After Wicker went to work for Paxton, he said in his deposition that he became a close family friend. Wicker said the attorney general's wife, State Sen. Angela Paxton, even called him their "second son."
Wicker resigned shortly after Paxton’s top deputies accused the AG of corruption in September 2020. In his deposition, he described the last three years as a “nightmare,” adding that he had also been subpoenaed by the FBI.
Concerns over 'inappropriate relationship' with Nate Paul
Wicker testified that he had concerns over Paul's potential involvement with Paxton's home renovations in 2020. Wicker said he was with Paxton and a contractor at Paxton's home when the contractor said the total for the kitchen renovation would be $20,000.
Paxton said he wanted to move forward with the project, Wicker testified, and then the contractor said he needed to "check with Nate."
That prompted Wicker to share his concerns with two of Paxton's top staffers, Mark Rylander and Blake Brickman.
Wicker said he then talked with Paxton about his concerns about an "inappropriate relationship" with Paul.
Wicker told Paxton that he walked away from the meeting with Paxton and the contractor with a "certain impression" about what might have been happening. Wicker said Paxton thanked him for raising the concerns but assured him there was nothing to be worried about.
Wicker said he still felt "uneasy" but did not speak to Paxton about the matter again.
Erin Epley, the prosecuting attorney who was questioning Wicker, said the contractor involved with Paxton's renovations was subpoenaed to testify but did not respond.
On cross-examination, Paxton's lawyer Tony Buzbee immediately moved to clarify Wicker's testimony.
"You're not accusing him of bribery, are you?" Buzbee asked Wicker.
"I am not. I'm not accusing anybody of anything," Wicker said.
Concerns over Laura Olson
Wicker was also asked about his boss's alleged affair with Laura Olson.
He testified that he and the Paxtons were staying at the Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa in August 2020 while their home was remodeled. Wicker said he and his father were in the lobby when they heard a "lively discussion" between two people on an elevator.
"Whenever the doors opened, two individuals exited, one was General Paxton, he was in workout attire and he told us he was going to the gym," Wicker said. "And the other individual was in a dress and high heels and she exited rather quickly."
Wicker said they were the only two on the elevator and the woman walked away without saying anything while Paxton shook his and his father's hands and said he was going to work out.
Wicker said he raised concerns with Rylander who showed him a photo of Olson, the woman Paxton admitted to having an affair with in 2018. Wicker identified Olson as the woman in the elevator and identified her again when Epley showed him a different photo.
Olson herself is expected to testify later Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Buzbee didn't confirm or deny the affair but he downplayed its relevance to the case.
"Imagine if we impeached everybody here in Austin that had had an affair," Buzbee said. "We’d be impeaching for the next 100 years, wouldn’t we?"
While Paxton has been absent from the trial since the first day, Angela Paxton has been there to hear the allegations against her husband, including the alleged affair.