In a stunning turn of events, Republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton finds himself at the center of an impeachment battle set to unfold on Saturday afternoon in the Texas House. This seismic development comes after a committee, led by Republicans, unanimously approved a staggering 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton, paving the way for a dramatic showdown.
The House General Investigating Committee’s decision came hot on the heels of gripping testimony from investigators who leveled a litany of explosive allegations against the attorney general, including claims of illicit actions taken to shield a political donor. The accusations have sent shockwaves through the political landscape, further escalating the already contentious proceedings.
Undeterred by the mounting pressure, Paxton forcefully denounced the impeachment proceedings as nothing more than a politically motivated witch hunt during a fiery address to reporters on Friday. In a bid to rally his loyal supporters, he called for a peaceful gathering at the iconic Capitol building in Austin on Saturday, urging them to make their voices heard.
At the heart of the House’s allegations against Paxton lies his alleged ties to Austin real estate investor Nate Paul, who made a substantial $25,000 contribution to Paxton’s campaign. With Paul under FBI investigation, House-hired investigators assert that Paxton brazenly exploited his position to shield Paul from legal scrutiny. They claim Paxton manipulated his staff to alter a ruling pertaining to COVID-19 restrictions, benefiting Paul, and even hired an external attorney as a special prosecutor to wage war against federal law enforcement on Paul’s behalf.
Investigators contend that their exhaustive probe has unearthed sufficient evidence to implicate Paxton in multiple violations of the law and breaches of his sworn oath. The alleged transgressions range from abuse of official capacity and misuse of privileged information to acts of retaliation and official oppression, painting a damning picture of Paxton’s conduct.
The genesis of the House investigation can be traced back to Paxton’s audacious request for $3.3 million from the Texas Legislature. The funds were intended to settle a dispute involving four former employees who had been terminated in 2020 after making explosive allegations against Paxton concerning his purported misconduct tied to Nate Paul.
In a memo addressed to House members, Republican Rep. Andrew Murr, the chairman of the House General Investigating Committee, emphasized the significance of Paxton’s own appeal for a taxpayer-funded settlement in fueling the impeachment inquiry. He underscored the profound irony that Paxton now faces potential impeachment solely due to his own actions, stating, “We cannot over-emphasize the fact that, but for Paxton’s own request for a taxpayer-funded settlement over his wrongful conduct, Paxton would not be facing impeachment by the House.”
Democratic State Rep. Terry Canales echoed the sentiment, asserting that the weight of evidence compels them to proceed with impeachment: “I will tell you that after hearing the amount of evidence that they heard, we’d be derelict in our duty to not do it.”
In a defiant display, Paxton and his chief of litigation, Chris Hilton, labeled the impending impeachment vote as “illegal” during a press conference on Friday. They argued that any proposed impeachment could only be based on conduct subsequent to the most recent election, claiming that the voters have unequivocally expressed their support for Paxton.
However, Texas law does not explicitly specify the election to which the prohibition on impeachment for pre-office acts pertains, leaving room for interpretation and legal maneuvering.
Paxton further contended that the impeachment vote represents a deliberate attempt to obstruct his relentless efforts to challenge President Biden’s policies in court. Emphatically asserting his position, Paxton proclaimed, “The House is poised to do exactly what Joe Biden has been hoping to accomplish since his first day in office – sabotage our work, my work, as Attorney General of Texas.” He passionately highlighted the unique influence Texas wields over the nation’s destiny and attributed it to the relentless challenges he poses against Biden’s perceived unconstitutional policy agenda.
Unyielding in his stance, Paxton took to Twitter on Thursday, accusing the Texas House of attempting to “overturn” the results of his hard-fought 2022 reelection. The stage is set for a high-stakes clash, as Paxton seeks to protect his position while his adversaries remain resolute in their pursuit of accountability.
Delving into Paxton’s background, his political trajectory has been rife with controversy and confrontation. Elected as Texas attorney general in 2014, he has triumphed in subsequent re-elections, cementing his popularity among Republican voters. His firm stance against voter fraud has seen him prosecute a record number of Texans, while his polarizing legal opinion deeming gender-affirming care as child abuse has drawn both accolades and censure.
Nationally, Paxton has carved out a reputation through his acrimonious clashes with the federal government, tangling with both the Obama and Biden administrations on matters such as immigration, federal spending, and abortion medication. Notably, he made headlines for his attempts to overturn the results of the fiercely contested 2020 presidential election.
However, Paxton’s tenure has not been without legal entanglements. Shortly after assuming office in 2015, he faced indictment on securities fraud charges, with his trial still pending. Furthermore, he finds himself under federal investigation for alleged abuses of his office, casting a shadow over his political career.
As the Texas House prepares for the climactic impeachment vote, the state’s political landscape stands on tenterhooks, anxiously awaiting the outcome that could shape the future of Ken Paxton’s tenure and reverberate through the corridors of power. The collision of political agendas, legal complexities, and public sentiment has created an electrifying atmosphere, where the fates of politicians and the credibility of institutions hang precariously in the balance.