Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could be impeached
Representatives for Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The shared office on social networks a video of one of its employees calling the investigation inaccurate and questioning the legality of the committee’s recommendation.
It was unclear when the House would proceed to a potential vote on Paxton’s impeachment. A spokesman for House Speaker Dade Phelan — a Republican with whom Paxton has feuded — referred the question about House votes to the committee. Logan Harrison, spokesman for the investigating committee, said the House vote on the articles of impeachment is expected soon, although he did not provide a date. The legislative session is due to end on Monday.
In the 150-member House, where Republicans hold 85 seats, a simple majority is required to send articles of impeachment to the state Senate, Harrison said. In the Senate, Harrison explained, Paxton could be impeached and impeached by a two-thirds vote of senators present. Republicans hold 19 of 31 Senate seats; Democrats hold the rest.
Committee investigators said Wednesday that Paxton abused his official capacity, misused official information and retaliated against whistleblowers who accused him of corruption in October 2020. Paxton settled the corruption lawsuit with four former aides in February for $3.3 million — a sum Paxton had asked to be paid with taxpayer money.
But the Texas legislature has been reluctant to use public funds to pay for this settlement.
Investigators say Paxton pressured his office’s open records division to help a donor and friend, Nate Paul, in his legal fight with a nonprofit group in Austin. In exchange for this help, investigators say, Paul participated in a “floor-to-ceiling renovation” to Paxton’s home and employed a woman with whom Paxton allegedly had an extramarital affair.
Investigators also concluded that Paxton wrongfully fired several former staffers who reported his inappropriate behavior to authorities.
Paxton has been under indictment for securities fraud since 2015, when he became attorney general. The FBI opened an investigation into Paxton in November 2020 over allegations that he used his office to benefit a wealthy donor, the Associated Press reported.
In September 2022, a Texas judge ordered Paxton to sit for a deposition regarding securities fraud charges. Despite the indictment and litany of investigations, Texas voters elected Paxton to a third term as attorney general in 2022.
The same House committee recommended lawmakers expel Rep. Bryan Slaton earlier this month after investigating sexual misconduct allegations made against him by a 19-year-old aide. Slaton resigned his seat a day before the House voted 147-0 to evict him.