A Republican-led investigative committee that spent months silently examining Paxton has recommended impeachment of the state’s top attorney.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton teetered on the brink of impeachment Thursday after years of scandal, criminal charges and corruption allegations that the state’s Republican majority had largely met with silence for years until now .
In a unanimous decision, a Republican-led investigative committee that spent months silently examining Paxton recommended the impeachment of the state’s top attorney. The state House of Representatives could vote on the recommendation as early as Friday. If the House impeached Paxton, he would be forced to leave office immediately.
The move created an extraordinarily sudden fall for one of the GOP’s top legal fighters, who in 2020 asked the US Supreme Court to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory. Only two other officials in Texas’ nearly 200-year history have been impeached.
Below are the articles of impeachment filed on Thursday
In a statement posted on Twitter following the impeachment recommendation, Paxton stated:
“Texas is facing a critical time for the rule of law and the will of Texas voters. Just a few months ago, Texans went to the polls and made a choice. They made their choice during the primary where over 1.5 million Texans voted. They made their choice. That choice again when more than 8 million people voted in the general election. Just yesterday, four liberal attorneys filed a report to the House General Investigative Committee based on hearsay and gossip, parroting long-denied claims. Today, that committee asked the Texas House of Representatives to use their unsubstantiated report to overturn the results of a free and fair election. This process provided no chance for rebuttal or due process. They have even refused to allow a senior lawyer in my office to give the facts. They have refused any attempt to seek a full account of the truth.
By attacking the Attorney General’s office, corrupt Texas House politicians, led by liberal President Dade Phelan, are actively destroying Texas’ position as the most powerful prop against the Biden agenda in the entire country. The RINOs in the Texas Legislature are now on the same side as Joe Biden, Alejandro Mayorkas and Chuck Schumer, working together to tie our hands and make Texas less powerful and less effective in fighting for the nation’s future. They want nothing more than to sabotage our legal challenges to Biden’s extremist agenda by eliminating me as state attorney general.
There’s a reason CNN called Texas “a legal graveyard for Biden’s policies.” I am doing exactly what the voters have elected me to do. It is a sad day for Texas as we see the corrupt political establishment unite in this illegitimate attempt to overthrow the will of the people and strip voters of our state.”
RELATED: Investigators detail years of alleged misconduct by Texas AG Ken Paxton in House committee hearing
Paxton has been under investigation by the FBI for years for allegations that he used his office to help a donor and was indicted separately on securities fraud charges in 2015, but has yet to go to trial.
Unlike Congress, impeachment in Texas requires immediate removal from office until a Senate trial is held. That means Paxton faces ouster at the hands of GOP lawmakers just seven months after handily winning a third term against challengers — including George P. Bush — who had urged voters to reject a compromised incumbent but found many didn’t. knew of Paxton’s litany of alleged misdeeds or dismissed the allegations as political attacks. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott could name an interim replacement.
Paxton suggested the probe that came to light this week was a politically motivated attack and said the Republican House leadership is too “liberal” for the state.
According to Mark Jones, Ph.D., of Rice University’s Baker Institute, the real surprise was the timing.
“None of the allegations that it’s a surprise. The fact that they’re moving for impeachment, and they’re doing it in the final days of the legislative session, is somewhat of a surprise,” Jones said. “I think that’s biased timing on the part of the House. And what’s also interesting about all of this is that it’s not clear what the endgame of the House is, until we know what Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is and the Governor Greg Abbott, because if the lieutenant governor is not in support of impeachment, then Paxton will be exonerated if he makes it to the Senate I just think if the lieutenant governor takes the side of those who want to impeach the attorney general, there could be a prospect of Paxton actually being impeached by the office”.
Chris Hilton, a senior attorney in the attorney general’s office, told reporters ahead of Thursday’s committee vote that what investigators said about Paxton was “untrue,” “misleading” and “full of errors big and small.” . He said all the allegations were known to voters when they re-elected him in November.
RELATED: Only twice has a sitting elected official been impeached in Texas
Impeachment requires a two-thirds vote of the 150-member house in the state’s House, where Republicans hold an 85-64 majority.
In one sense, Paxton’s political danger has come with breakneck speed: House Republicans didn’t disclose that they had investigated him until Tuesday, followed the next day by a stunning public airing of alleged criminal acts he committed. as one of the most powerful figures in Texas.
But for Paxton’s detractors, who now include a growing share of his own party in the Texas Capitol, the rebuke was seen as years of work.
In 2014, he admitted to violating Texas securities law by failing to register as an investment advisor while soliciting clients. A year later, Paxton was indicted on criminal securities charges by a grand jury in his hometown near Dallas, where he was accused of defrauding investors in a tech startup. He pleaded not guilty to two counts carrying a potential sentence of five to 99 years in prison.
He opened a legal defense fund and accepted $100,000 from an executive whose company was being investigated by Paxton’s office for Medicaid fraud. Another $50,000 was donated by an Arizona retiree whose son Paxton was later hired for a high-status job but was soon fired after he attempted to make a point by displaying child sexual abuse materials at a meeting.
What has sparked the most serious risk for Paxton is his relationship with another wealthy donor, Austin-based real estate developer Nate Paul.
Several of Paxton’s top aides in 2020 said they were concerned the attorney general was abusing his office’s powers to help Paul due to unsubstantiated claims that an elaborate conspiracy was underway to steal $200 million of his properties . The FBI searched Paul’s home in 2019 but he has not been charged and his lawyers have denied any wrongdoing. Paxton also told staffers that he was having an affair with a woman who, it later transpired, worked for Paul.
Paxton’s aides accused him of corruption and were all fired or fired after reporting him to the FBI. Four sued under Texas whistleblower laws, accusing Paxton of wrongful retaliation, and agreed in February to settle the case for $3.3 million. But the Texas House must approve the payment and Phelan said he doesn’t think taxpayers should foot the bill.
Shortly after the settlement was reached, the House investigation into Paxton began. The investigation was a rare check of Paxton in the Capitol, where many Republicans have long been silent about the allegations following the attorney general.
That includes Abbott, who swore Paxton into a third term in January and said the way he approached the job was “the right way to run the attorney general’s office.”
Only twice has the Texas House impeached a sitting official: Governor James Ferguson in 1917 and state judge OP Carrillo in 1975.
Below is the Texas Impeachment Code