After hours of discussion in an afternoon session, the Texas House of Representatives decided on Saturday to move the case against Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton to the state Senate on allegations of bribery, disrespect for official duties, and abuse of public trust.
By a vote of 121-23, the House decided to remove him from office so that he could stand prosecution in the upper chamber. Impeachment of him required only a simple majority.
After Paxton and his office requested the legislature for $3.3 million to settle a wrongful termination case brought by office whistleblowers, the House’s Committee on General Investigating opened an investigation in March. The former workers had requested in 2020 that Paxton’s activities regarding an Austin real estate mogul who had the FBI examine his home be looked into. They charged Paxton with abusing his position by approving an FBI probe in order to shield him.
According to the articles of impeachment, the settlement benefited Paxton by delaying the disclosure of relevant information and evidence.
“Over the course of several months, the Committee and staff set out to determine if payment of the settlement was warranted because of the lack of discovery in the litigation and because Paxton and his office were not forthcoming about his conduct regarding the whistleblower’s good faith reports of his violations of his constitutional and statutory duties,” a committee memo said this week.
The conservative firebrand has filed a number of high-profile cases in support of conservative causes and against the Biden administration; this is the latest accusation of impropriety against him. Although he was charged with securities fraud in 2015, he has not yet gone to trial.
The impeachment campaign has been described by Paxton as “political theatre” that is based on “hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas gave his support to Paxton before the vote, calling the proceedings “a travesty.”
“Ken has been the most powerful conservative attorney general in the nation for the past nine years. without a doubt. Paxton has taken on the abuses of the Biden administration with greater vigour and success than any other attorney general.
He went on to say, “In wants him out. Special interests oppose having a staunchly conservative attorney general. I realise that Ken’s legal troubles are worrying some people. But the courts ought to resolve them.
Donald Trump, a former president, backed the AG as well, writing on Truth Social, “Free Ken Paxton.”
I will fight you if it does, he said, adding, “Hopefully Republicans in the Texas House will agree that this is a very unfair process that should not happen or proceed.”
Democrats in the House had made their case against Paxton, and Rep. Ann Johnson had charged Paxton of being “desperate to keep this case in the court of public opinion.”
“Because he is unable to prevail in court. He will be treated the same as any other civil or criminal defendant in that case, a judge will preside over it in a court of law, she explained.
Republicans have supported impeachment in some cases, but others have voiced concerns about the inquiry and impeachment process, calling it hasty and politicised.
Rep. Tony Tinderholt stated, “I don’t think today is about whether there is guilt or innocence, it’s about process.”
In order to remove him from office, the Senate must vote with a two-thirds majority. Gov. Greg Abbott will pick a temporary substitute while the trial is ongoing.