TX AG Ken Paxton Calls for Resignation of Speaker Dade Phelan After Intoxication Allegations in Legislature

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File

Near the end of a 14-hour legislative session on Friday, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) appeared to be intoxicated, slurring his words as he presided over the hearing. The controversy arose as the video circulated on social media with speculation as to whether the Speaker was drunk or could be having a stroke or another medical issue, while some chalked it up to exhaustion. Phelan’s office has not made a comment on the allegations. 


Tuesday, much of the speculation resolved as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) called for Speaker Phelan to resign due to this incident, calling his state “apparent debilitating intoxication.” AG Paxton requested the resignation to follow the conclusion of the legislative session, writing that the situation has caused a credibility crisis for Republicans.  

Paxton wrote:

Texans were dismayed to witness his performance presiding over the Texas House in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication. Texans were relying on the House to pass critical conservative priorities including protecting the integrity of our elections and preventing Chinese spies from controlling Texas land. His failures as Speaker have created a credibility crisis for all Republican candidates and for our entire Party. While I hope Speaker Phelan will get the help he needs, he has proven himself unworthy of Texans’ trust and incapable of leading the Texas House.


Additionally, AG Paxton wrote a letter to the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee requesting an investigation into Speaker Phelan’s conduct, applicable House rules, and state law. 

Tensions have been on the rise between the AG and the Speaker, as Paxton recently reached a $3.3 million settlement with whistleblowers who accused him of bribery and abuse of office. Phelan disagreed with taxpayers having to pay the costs of the settlement and the Texas Legislature is anticipated to block the payment, while previously saying that it would not be included in the chamber’s budget.

In February Phelan said:

Mr. Paxton is going to have to come to the Texas House, he’s going to have to appear before the appropriations committee and make a case to that committee as to why that is a proper use of taxpayer dollars, and then he’s going to have to sell it to 76 members of the Texas House. That is his job, not mine.

Currently, the DOJ is investigating the whistleblowers’ corruption claims.

Paxton, a Republican who secured a third consecutive four-year term in November, is considered a liability by many members of the Texas GOP due to his numerous legal issues. For the past seven years, he has faced an indictment on charges of felony securities fraud. In addition, he has been sued by the State Bar of Texas for alleged professional misconduct.


Over the weekend, an anonymous text message campaign circulated asking for constituents to contact their state representatives to demand Phelan’s resignation. 

Phelan is in his second session as House Speaker. The Texas legislative session ends on Monday.


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