GOP-Led Texas House Prepares Impeachment Against AG Ken Paxton

The Republican-led House of Representatives in Texas was ready to hold historic impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Ken Paxton on Saturday, as the scandal-plagued Republican urged supporters to resist a vote that might result in his removal.

The House has set a discussion on whether to impeach and remove Paxton from office over charges of bribery, unfitness for office, and abuse of public trust, to name a few of the issues that have dogged Texas’ top lawyer for most of his three mandates.

The hearing sets the stage for one of the GOP’s most renowned legal opponents, who 2020 petitioned the United States Supreme Court to reverse Joe Biden’s electoral defeat of President Donald Trump. Only two officials have been impeached in Texas’ nearly 200-year history.

Paxton, 60, has characterized the impeachment proceedings as “political theater” based on “hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims,” as well as an attempt to disenfranchise voters who re-elected him in November. On Friday, he urged supporters to “come peacefully to the Capitol tomorrow and let their voices be heard.”

Paxton has been under FBI investigation for years on allegations that he used his authority to assist a donor, and he was separately charged with securities fraud in 2015 but has yet to stand trial. Until this week, his Republican colleagues had been silent on the claims.

GOP-Led Texas House Prepares Impeachment Against AG Ken Paxton

A simple majority in the House is all that is required for impeachment. That means only a small number of its 85 Republicans would have to vote against him, together with 64 Democrats.

If Paxton is impeached, he will be removed from office pending a Senate trial, and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott will appoint an interim replacement. A two-thirds vote in the Senate, where Paxton’s wife, Angela, is a member, would be required for final dismissal.

This week, Texas’ top elected Republicans have been unusually quiet about Paxton. However, other party members rallied behind him on Friday, with the state GOP chair, Matt Rinaldi, calling the process a “sham.”

In some ways, Paxton’s political peril arrived at breakneck speed: the House committee’s inquiry into him was revealed on Tuesday, and members issued 20 articles of impeachment against him by Thursday.

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But, according to Paxton’s adversaries, the scolding was long overdue.

He acknowledged breaking Texas securities legislation in 2014, and a year later, he was charged with securities fraud in his birthplace near Dallas, accused of scamming investors in a software business. He pled not guilty to two felony offenses with maximum sentences ranging from five to 99 years.

He established a legal defense fund and collected $100,000 from an executive whose company was investigated for Medicaid fraud by Paxton’s office.

An extra $50,000 was contributed by an Arizona retiree whose son Paxton was later appointed to a high-ranking position but was quickly sacked after displaying child p*rnography during a meeting.

Paxton stepped in in 2020 in a Colorado mountain village where a Texas contributor and college friend was facing eviction from his lakeside house due to coronavirus orders.

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But Paxton’s association with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul sparked the impeachment campaign.

In 2020, eight top staffers told the FBI that they were concerned Paxton was abusing his position to enable Paul in his unfounded accusations that an extended plan to steal $200 million from his properties was underway.

The FBI searched Paul’s home in 2019, but he has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing. Paxton also revealed to staff workers that he was having an affair with a woman who worked for Paul.

The impeachment accuses Paxton of interfering in foreclosure proceedings and offering legal opinions to favor Paul. Its bribery charges claim that Paul hired the lady with whom Paxton had an affair in exchange for legal assistance and paid for costly repairs to the attorney general’s house.

A senior lawyer for Paxton’s office, Chris Hilton, said Friday that the attorney general paid for all repairs and renovations.

Other charges, including lying to investigators, date back to Paxton’s still-pending securities fraud indictment.

Four of the aides who reported Paxton to the FBI later sued under Texas’ whistleblower law, and in February, he agreed to settle the case for $3.3 million. The House committee said Paxton sought legislative approval for the payout that sparked their probe.

“But for Paxton’s own request for a taxpayer-funded settlement over his wrongful conduct, Paxton would not be facing impeachment,” the panel said.

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