A Republican-led ethics panel of the Texas House of Representatives voted unanimously to recommend the impeachment and removal from office of Attorney General Ken Paxton following a monthslong investigation into his conduct.
(Bloomberg) — A Republican-led ethics panel of the Texas House of Representatives voted unanimously to recommend the impeachment and removal from office of Attorney General Ken Paxton following a monthslong investigation into his conduct.
The stunning move by a legislative committee in the GOP-dominated statehouse threatens to oust the top law-enforcement official in Texas. Paxton, a champion of Republican legal fights over abortion rights and immigration, has faced various allegations of wrongdoing throughout his tenure.
Now, the full House must vote on whether to approve the 20 articles of impeachment, which include bribery and abuse of public trust. If a majority of the 149-member chamber votes in favor, Paxton would be forced to leave his post immediately while the state Senate would hold a trial on whether he should be removed from office permanently.
Texas has impeached only two elected officials in its 187-year history — former Governor James E. Ferguson in 1917 and former Judge O.P. Carrillo in 1975.
Paxton said the impeachment effort is an attempt to thwart the will of Texas voters being orchestrated by Republican leaders in the House who are “actively destroying Texas’ position as the most powerful backstop against the Biden agenda in the entire country.”
“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,” Paxton said in a statement after the committee vote. Paxton won election to his third term in office last year, securing 53% of the vote over his Democratic opponent.
The committee unveiled 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton late Thursday, one day after a team of investigators publicly disclosed details of a secret probe into Paxton’s conduct in office.
The articles of impeachment also include disregard of official duty and obstruction of justice over a period of years.
The embattled attorney general has been under indictment for securities fraud for eight years but procedural skirmishes have stalled a trial. He’s also been accused of professional misconduct and bribery by former members of his staff.
Through their review, investigators said they uncovered evidence to suggest Paxton improperly used his office to aide a campaign donor who was being investigated by the FBI and directed his staff to withhold information from law enforcement about the man.
All such allegations are addressed in the impeachment materials. Committee members accuse Paxton of abusing “the judicial process to thwart justice” and say he made misused his official powers in order to conceal his own wrongdoing.
“While holding office as attorney general, (Paxton) used, misused or failed to use his official powers in a manner calculated to subvert the lawful operation of the government of the State of Texas and obstruct the fair and impartial administration of justice, thereby bringing the Office of Attorney General into scandal and disrepute to the prejudice of public confidence in the government of this State,” reads the 20th impeachment article, outlining the allegation of abuse of public trust.
Capitol staff distributed copies of the articles of impeachment to lawmakers on the House floor late Thursday. State Represantive Andrew Murr, the Republican who serves as chairman of the ethics panel, said he planned to call for a vote by the full body, but he didn’t say when.
Read more: Texas AG Ken Paxton Accused of Corruption by State Investigators
(Updates with new details about the articles of impeachment)
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