House Investigations Panel Could Probe
Constant Breaking of Ten Commandments

Capitol Inside
July 2, 2024

A Texas House panel plans to emerge from an extended hibernation later this month after gaining national notoriety in a span of several weeks last year with Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment and the first expulsion of a state representative here in almost an entire century.

The General Investigating Committee returned to action on Monday when it set a meeting for July 17 in a formal notice that fails to give the public any clues on why it's getting back in business six months before the Legislature convenes for the regular session in 2025.

The committee's chairman - lameduck State Rep. Andrew Murr of Junction - kept the announcement notice on the meeting as vague as humanly possible in line with the panel's penchant for clandestine maneuvering, secrecy and doing almost all of its work outside the public view.

"The committee may enter into an executive session to consider any matter authorized to be considered in an executive session under Subchapter B, Chapter 301, Government Code, the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Housekeeping Resolution, and the committee’s rules," according to the post on the gathering two weeks from now.

There's no way to tell from the notice whether the investigations committee has a specific individual or suspected crime in its sights. The mention of a potential executive session suggests that Speaker Dade Phelan's sleuths on Murr's panel are going after someone for something and that fireworks could be in store for the meeting this month. The current members of the investigating committee have a history of moving with lightning speed after making probes public like they did with the AG's impeachment and the process that culminated in Republican Bryan Slaton's removal from the House in the same month near the end of the 2023 regular session.

The apparent unveiling of another investigation without hints on its purpose has given House members new cause for fear and anxiety that they could be the probing panel's latest targets. Here are some possibilities that state officials who the committee has the power to investigate may feel compelled to contemplate until they have an idea of what's going on.

1. Impeachment - The Sequel. A pair of legendary lawyers in their 80s echoed the panel's assertions that the evidence against Paxton was 10 times stronger than House members realized before the vote to impeach last spring. One of the famous attorneys for the House claimed the case against the attorney general was stronger than horseradish.

After failing to back up the breathless rhetoric in a Senate trial that ended in an acquittal that was inevitable from the start, the committee may have simply needed another year to pull all that incriminating evidence that their outside lawyers envisioned together into some sort of salable case.

2. Expulsion. While 14 of 60 Republicans who voted for Paxton's impeachment got the boot from voters in the primary and runoff elections this year, there was no retribution for a vote three weeks earlier to expel Slaton from the lower chamber for a sexual encounter with a woman on his staff. The case against Slaton was a blatant railroad job that was based mostly on unsubstantiated claims from a pair of employees on a separate GOP member's staff. But Slaton's Republican colleagues clearly hated him - and the vote for expulsion was unanimous as a result. The investigations committee may want to consider expelling every House member who's been known to cheat on spouses while representing their districts in Austin.

Slaton's one-night stand was 19 years old at the time - which means that she'd been the legal age for sexual intercourse for two or three years. It's conceivable that the committee may feel compelled to meet again as a result of a complaint of sexual harrassment or misconduct. The House might find it hard to get a quorum if all of the members who've fooled around while in Austin got the same treatment as the far right crusader Slaton.

3. Ten Commandment Violations. It might be hard to get up a poker game much less a quorum if the House started impeaching and expelling folks for breaking most if not all of the commandments that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and GOP senators want public schools to have to post in every classroom. Murr's panel could try to get to the bottom of whether the politicians among them ever steal, cheat or lie or commit adultery or covet something that doesn't belong to them like thy neghbors' wives, male servants, female maids or cows.

more to come ...







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