Texas House impeaches embattled Republican AG Ken Paxton

 May 28, 2023

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was impeached by the GOP-led state House of Representatives Saturday, the result of allegations that he engaged in acts of bribery and abuses of the public trust, as the Associated Press reports.

The chamber voted 121-23 to impeach the state's top lawyer, a move that initiated his immediate suspension from official duties while the trial phase of the proceedings takes place in the state Senate.

Paxton impeached

Saturday's vote was the culmination of an inquiry launched by the state House's Committee on General Investigating earlier this year in the wake of a request from Paxton to approve a wrongful termination settlement in a case filed by a group of his former employees, as Fox News noted.

Those disgruntled workers previously asked for a probe of Paxton's conduct in connection to an Austin real estate investor who had courted scrutiny from federal law enforcement, but whom they believed the attorney general had wrongfully sought to protect.

The impeachment articles that were ultimately successful in the House contended that the wrongful termination settlement helped Paxton prevent the timely discovery of certain facts regarding his own questionable actions.

According to findings from the aforementioned probe, Paxton urged the real estate developer to hire a woman with whom the attorney general was romantically involved, and that the Paxton received home renovations in exchange for favorable treatment from his office. False statements and obstruction of justice accusations are also included in the report's characterization of Paxton's conduct.

Reactions pour in

Following the vote, Paxton blasted the outcome, according to the AP, saying, “The ugly spectacle in the Texas House today confirmed the outrageous impeachment plot against me was never meant to be fair or just.”

“It was a politically motivated sham from the beginning,” Paxton added.

Republican state Rep. David Spiller opined, “No one person should be above the law, least not the top law officer of the state of Texas,” while GOP lawmaker Charlie Geren hinted that Paxton had engaged in acts of intimidation before the vote, threatening “consequences” of an unspecified nature.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) came to Paxton's defense, however, saying before the vote, “For the last nine years, Ken has been the strongest conservative AG in the country. Bar none. No attorney general has battled the abuses of the Biden admin more ferociously – and more effectively – than has Paxton.”

Next steps

As the Austin American-Statesman points out, the impeachment vote was held just two days before the end of the state legislative session, and it sets the stage for a trial in the upper chamber.

For Paxton to be removed permanently from office, two-thirds of the 31 members of the Senate must vote for such an outcome, and with Republicans currently holding a 19-12 majority over Democrats, it is far from certain how things will ultimately shake out.

Adding to the drama is the fact that one member of the Republican delegation in the Senate is none other than Paxton's own wife, Angela, and given that allegations of marital infidelity are interwoven in the attorney general's misconduct, her stance will assuredly be one that is closely watched.

Speaking ahead of his potential impeachment, Paxton said that if a trial in the upper chamber proved inevitable, he was looking forward to “a quick resolution in the Texas Senate where I truly believe the process will be fair and just,” though as of Sunday, it remained unknown precisely when those proceedings will commence.

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