Texas Legislators to Weigh Impeachment of Ken Paxton

Texas Legislators to Weigh Impeachment of Ken Paxton wsjrenewal

AUSTIN, Texas—Texas legislators are poised to commence impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Ken Paxton, which could promptly suspend the state’s top lawyer from office.

A bipartisan committee consisting of three Republican and two Democratic House legislators unanimously voted on Thursday to draft the articles of impeachment. Also, this decision followed a three-hour presentation by a team of investigators, who detailed years of alleged crimes committed by Paxton.

In March, the House committee launched an investigation after Paxton sought $3.3 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit brought forward by his former deputies. These deputies had initially reported numerous allegations to law enforcement in 2020.

Texas Legislators Set to Initiate Impeachment

The impeachment articles encompass 20 charges, including conspiracy, dereliction of duty, misapplication of public resources, unfitness for office, bribery, obstruction of justice, false statement, and conspiracy.

The House committee members stressed the urgency of moving forward with impeachment to prevent Paxton from obstructing and delaying justice through the misuse of his authority. They argued that his actions not only evade accountability for his wrongdoings but also undermine the integrity of the state government, as stated in a memorandum released on Friday.

The news of the investigation and its findings sent shockwaves through the Texas Capitol, where legislators are wrapping up their biennial session. Paxton, a prominent conservative figure closely linked to former President Donald Trump, has held office since 2014 and was re-elected to a third term in November.

Responding to the developments, Paxton took to Twitter on Thursday, dismissing the report presented by “four liberal lawyers” as hearsay and baseless claims. He expressed concern that using the unsubstantiated report to overturn the results of a fair election would deem it a sad day for Texas.

Also, Paxton has long faced allegations of corruption and lawbreaking, with an eight-year indictment on securities fraud charges and reports of misuse of his office to benefit a political donor brought forward three years ago by eight high-ranking officials from the attorney general’s office.

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These proceedings mark the first impeachment effort in Texas in decades and the first against a politician of Paxton’s stature in over a century, according to Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

The state Senate would hold a trial on Paxton’s removal from office if the House votes in favor of impeaching him.

House Speaker Dade Phelan, who has recently clashed with Paxton, indicated his support for the General Investigating Committee and its recommendations, following a thorough and diligent investigation.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the presiding officer of the Senate, emphasized the responsibility of senators as jurors and expressed confidence that they would fulfill their duty.

Notably, Paxton’s wife, Angela Paxton, serves as a state senator.

The most recent allegations against Paxton revolve around his ties to Austin real-estate developer Nate Paul, who donated $25,000 to Paxton’s campaign. Investigators discovered Paxton’s attempts to interfere with an FBI investigation into Paul, including hiring an outside lawyer, recommended by Paul’s attorneys, to investigate law enforcement actions against Paul’s companies.

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Furthermore, investigators presented evidence of Paxton pressuring his staff to halt foreclosure sales of Paul’s properties and attempting to release confidential law-enforcement information to Paul through his office.

Finally, the committee also brought attention to Paxton’s involvement in a lawsuit between Paul and a nonprofit organization, in which Paul hired a woman with whom Paxton had an extramarital affair. These findings corroborated the allegations raised by whistleblowers in 2020.

Observers of the Texas Legislature anticipate that the House will approve the impeachment, although the Senate’s stance remains uncertain.

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