What The Heck Is The GOP Doing To AG Ken Paxton?
The Texas House of Representatives has voted to impeach state Attorney General Ken Paxton in a historic move on Saturday evening.
121 members of the Texas House voted in favor of impeachment, while 23 voted against it and two members voted present. An additional investigation into alleged corruption is underway, and it was revealed on Tuesday that subpoenas had been issued for his office to examine how he attempted to settle a lawsuit using $3.3 million of public money last year.
"The people of Texas should know that the House today chose liberty, justice, and truth over a false narrative and egregious abuses of power," Speaker of the House Dade Phelan said in a statement.
In response, Paxton issued a tweet claiming that the impeachment is “illegal, unethical, and profoundly unjust”.
I am beyond grateful to have the support of millions of Texans who recognize that what we just witnessed is illegal, unethical, and profoundly unjust. I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate, where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just. pic.twitter.com/fEiAroA2DW
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) May 27, 2023
Paxton has become only the third state official in Texas’ history to be impeached - the other two being a former governor in 1917 and a judge in 1975. He was temporarily suspended from his office following the vote and must now await trial in the Senate.
He is accused of violating the state's whistleblower law, entering “into a settlement agreement with the whistleblowers that provides for payment of the settlement from public funds,” and other activities. He is also charged with violating the Securities Act.
The case against him stems from a lawsuit brought forward in 2020 by four former employees of the attorney general’s office, and which alleges they were retaliated against after accusing Paxton of corruption. When the state legislature refused to fund the settlement, the case was still able to work its way through the court system.
Whether or not he is found guilty remains to be seen, but a conviction would result in Paxton's removal from office. The Senate has yet to set a date for the trial.
Conservatives in the state have quickly come to Paxton's defense, with some accusing the vote as being driven by political motivations rather than any actual misdeeds.
"It is difficult to divorce the vote from politics and speculation," Texas Attorney General's executive spokesperson Ian Prior said in a statement. "It is important to keep in mind that only a conviction in the Senate will remove the attorney general from office."
The impeachment and subsequent investigation come at an awkward time for Paxton, as he is set to have a major role in an upcoming case in the Supreme Court concerning the state’s ability to take action against undocumented immigrants. Due to the allegations, the outcome of the case could be significantly impacted.
For now, the eye of the Texas justice system goes to the Senate to determine the final fate of Ken Paxton.