Panel Sets Stage for Impeachment Vote
as AG Decries Bid to Overturn Election
May 25, 2023
A Texas House committee that's controlled by Republicans recommended on Thursday that Attorney General Ken Paxton be impeached for misconduct in connection with a donor in a case that's taking the Lone Star State into virgin territory and could hinge on semantics.
The General Investigating Committee filed 20 articles of impeachment against the embattled state lawyer - with charges that include bribery, conspiracy, misappropriation of public resources, the falsification of government records, abuse of the judicial process and the public trust as well. The allegations are spelled out in a document that spans nine pages and contains signatures of all five of the panel members.
As speculation swirled on a possible impeachment vote on the lower chamber floor as early as Saturday, Paxton signaled that he doesn't intend to go out without a fight. Paxton portrayed the case against him as an illegal attempt to overturn the democratic Texas election by liberal Republicans who are closet allies with President Joe Biden and Democrats in Washington D.C.
Paxton is essentially arguing that the 2022 election was the statute of limitations for charges that stem from activities that are alleged to have taken place before the cast were cast in November. Paxton contended in a statement on Twitter tonight that he'd been vindicated by the voters who'd had ample time to weigh the allegations and dismiss them at the polls. Paxton suggested that he'd been ambushed by the committee probe and given no chance to defend himself before or after it became public in the past few days.
"Today, that Committee has asked the Texas House of Representatives to use their unsubstantiated report to overturn the results of a free and fair election," Paxton said. "This process provided no opportunity for rebuttal or due process. They even refused to allow a senior attorney from my office to provide the facts. They rejected every attempt to seek a full accounting of the truth."
Paxton's defense revolves on his interpretation of a provision in the Government Code that could bolster a legal challenge. "An officer in this state may not be removed from office for an act the officer may have committed before the officer's election to office," according to a section in the code on impeachment powers.
The House could argue that the provision applies to Paxton's initial election as attorney general in 2014. But the General Investigating Committee ignored the state lawyer's advice and voted 5-0 to propose Paxton's removal from statewide office until he could be tried in the Senate for the misdeeds that the House panel alleged.
Paxton has been under indictment for securities fraud for nearly eight years. He's been the target of an FBI probe based on allegations of bribery that several former assistants lodged before they were fired from the AG's office. The State Bar of Texas has considered action against Paxton for a key supporting role that he had in Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 election in battleground states.
But Paxton's personal tribulations had no effect whatsoever at the polls in the 2022 general election when he scored a third term with 53.4 percent of the vote. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick was re-elected to a third term last fall with 53.75 percent of the vote while Governor Greg Abbott garnered 54.8 percent.
"Texas faces a critical moment for the rule of law and the will of Texas voters," Paxton said. "Only months ago, Texans went to the polls and made a choice. They made their choice during a primary where over 1.5 million Texans cast their vote. They made that choice again when over 8 million people voted in the general election. Just yesterday, four liberal lawyers put forward a report to the House General Investigating Committee based on hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims."
Paxton sought to tie GOP House leaders to Biden. "By attacking the Office of the Attorney General, corrupted politicians in the Texas House, led by liberal Speaker Dade Phelan, are actively destroying Texas’s position as the most powerful backstop 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, collaborating to tie our hands and render Texas less powerful and effective in the fight for the nation’s future. They want nothing more than to sabotage our legal challenges to Biden’s extremist agenda by taking me out as the state’s Attorney General.
"There is a reason CNN called Texas “a legal graveyard for Biden policies.” I am doing exactly what voters elected me to do. It is a sad day for Texas as we witness the corrupt political establishment unite in this illegitimate attempt to overthrow the will of the people and disenfranchise the voters of our state."