A Texas House ethics panel recommended that the Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) being charged after a months-long investigation into alleged abuse of power.
The Republican-led committee unanimously approved the recommendations Thursday after outside lawyers presented evidence accusing the state attorney general of radical impropriety bordering on criminality, including claims that Paxton had used his position to help a political ally, engaged in bribery and attempted to obstruct justice. Investigators also said Paxton had retaliated against employees who accused him of crimes, noting an ongoing lawsuit against you by four former assistants.
The recommendations included 20 articles of impeachment.
Texas lawmakers could vote on the matter as early as Friday. If Paxton is impeached in the state House by a simple majority, he will be asked to resign temporarily and barred from serving as him while the state Senate conducts a trial on the impeachment charges. A two-thirds vote of state senators would be required to approve his removal from office.
Paxton responded with a brief message on Twitter after the recommendation was made public, saying, “Election nullification begins behind closed doors.”
He explained in a statement later that day, criticizing the investigation as an “illegitimate attempt to overthrow the will of the people.”
“Four liberal lawyers submitted a report to the House General Investigative Committee based on rumors and gossip, repeating long-disproved claims,” he said. saying. “By attacking the Attorney General’s Office, corrupt politicians in the Texas House of Representatives, led by liberal Speaker Dade Phelan, are actively destroying Texas’ position as the most powerful backer against the Biden agenda in the entire country.” .
The charge is extremely rare in Texas. Only two officials have been charged and removed from office in state history, and the last was nearly 50 years ago. according to The Dallas Morning News.
Whatever happens, this week’s events pose a major threat to one of Texas’ most powerful Republicans and will force lawmakers to reckon with years of scandals and lawsuits surrounding his office.
The investigation began in March in the midst of an agreement made with former Paxton employees for $3.3 million. The attorney general asked the Texas Legislature to fund the deal, but lawmakers, including Phelan, a Republican, said he did not provide sufficient explanation as to why the state should foot the bill.
Paxton had gone on a tirade against Phelan in recent days, accusing the speaker of being drunk during a House session last week.
The attorney general has maintained voter support for years despite ongoing ethics and legal scandals and handily won re-election last November to a third term in office. He was indicted on federal securities fraud charges in 2015, although that case has yet to go to trial. He, too, was investigated for bribery allegations in 2017 before being cleared of those charges.