The House General Investigating Committee of the Texas House of Representatives voted unanimously on Thursday to file a 20-article bill of impeachment against Attorney General Ken Paxton, alleging misuse of his office, bribery, retaliating against whistleblowers, and obstruction of justice.
The next step is for the bill to be voted on by the Texas House. If it passes, then Paxton is suspended from office pending the outcome of a trial in the Texas Senate. Removal from office requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate.
Paxton’s defense is two-fold. First, corrupt politicians are trying to get rid of him.
“It is a sad day in Texas as we witness the corrupt political establishment unite in an illegitimate attempt to overthrow the will of the people and disenfranchise the voters of our state,” he said.
The second defense, articulated by Chris Hilton, chief of litigation in the attorney general’s office, is that this is “old stuff.” According to Hilton, impeachment can only cover misconduct that has taken place since the last election. Paxton was just reelected in 2022 (53.42 percent of the vote). I’m not an authority on the Texas Constitution and will defer to Mr. Hilton’s interpretation.
Paxton is no stranger to controversy or political hardball. In 2014, Paxton was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on three felony counts related to securities fraud. This is not necessarily dispositive of wrongdoing, as any Republican holding statewide office in Texas will eventually be indicted in Travis County for something. However, that case has not yet come to trial. In 2016, the Security and Exchange Commission filed a civil enforcement action against Paxton based on the same alleged misconduct, and a federal judge dismissed the action.
In 2020, seven staffers in the Attorney General’s office alleged that Paxton had illegally intervened in cases to help a major campaign donor. None of them work there anymore. Eventually, $3.3 million was paid to four of the “whistleblowers” who alleged illegal retaliation.
After the 2020 election, an ethics complaint was filed with the Texas State Bar Association because Paxton had criticized the election results.
I don’t have any particular knowledge of this case, but I do have an opinion.
First, Paxton is a warrior for freedom. See Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Takes on the ATF Over Their Bizarre Pistol Brace Rule, Texas AG Ken Paxton Comes Down on GoFundMe Over ‘Deceitful’ Termination of Ottawa Trucker Fundraiser, Dallas County Judge Tries to Limit Church Service Attendees but Texas AG Ken Paxton Isn’t Having It, Greg Abbott and Texas AG Ken Paxton: “Release Ms. Luther Immediately,” and Boom Lowered: TX AG Ken Paxton Files Lawsuit Against San Antonio for Requested Documents on Chick-fil-A Ban. I don’t know anything about Paxton’s personal life or how he runs his office, but his public life has been admirable, and his refusal to surrender or kowtow to the left is something we should require of all Republican officeholders.
Second, integrity is non-negotiable. Tuesday, Paxton called for the resignation of Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan after he appeared on the House floor acting a “little under the weather” (TX AG Ken Paxton Calls for Resignation of Speaker Dade Phelan After Intoxication Allegations in Legislature). That was the right thing to do. If Paxton has committed criminal acts, and, for the record, I don’t consider firing “whistleblowers” to be one, he needs to do the right thing and step down. Texas can’t afford to have an attorney general at war with his own party. The Texas GOP can’t afford to go into the 2024 election with seriously wounded Ken Paxton on the ballot.
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