Ken Paxton impeachment updates: Texas GOP chair denounces “sham” proceedings
By Texas Tribune Staff, The Texas Tribune
“Ken Paxton impeachment updates: Texas GOP chair denounces “sham” proceedings” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Texas GOP chair stands by Paxton
Matt Rinaldi, chair of the Republican Party of Texas, publicly supported Ken Paxton on Friday, echoing much of the embattled attorney general’s rhetoric.
Rinaldi also blasted the Republican House speaker for failing to deliver on several GOP priorities and appointing Democrats as committee chairs — a fight that Phelan had with the more conservative wing of his party earlier this session.
“This sham impeachment is the result of the Phelan leadership team empowering Democrats, allowing them to hold leadership positions and letting them control the agenda,” Rinaldi said in a statement Friday.
— Alex Nguyen
Accusations include bribery, obstruction of justice and dereliction of official duty
Attorney General Ken Paxton faces 20 charges in the Texas House — a range of criminal acts that include disregard of official duty, misapplication of public resources and obstruction of justice.
Collectively, the impeachment articles accuse the attorney general, reelected last year by voters who shrugged off his scandals, of a yearslong pattern of alleged misconduct and lawbreaking.
Paxton has faced allegations of wrongdoing for years, but Texas Republicans have largely avoided taking any official action against him. Shortly after first taking office, he was indicted on state securities fraud charges, a criminal case he continues fighting. In 2020, senior officials in his office asked the FBI to investigate allegations that he had abused his authority to help a wealthy friend and donor. Those claims led to a whistleblower lawsuit alleging Paxton retaliated against his former deputies.
For a full list of the impeachment charges, click here.
— Chuck Lindell, James Barragán and Patrick Svitek
Here’s how the impeachment process works
It’s been nearly 50 years since the Texas House held impeachment proceedings for a state official. The year was 1975 and District Judge O.P. Carrillo of Duval County was successfully impeached for misuse of public funds, presiding over cases that involved financial partners and a number of other infractions.
For Texans who aren’t familiar with that case, here’s how impeachment proceedings work in Texas: Impeaching an official requires a simple majority vote of the House. If that happens, the Texas Senate can carry out a trial, in which senators take an oath to be impartial. Two-thirds of the senators present must vote to convict an impeached state leader, per state law. If that happens, the official is then permanently removed from office.
For a more detailed version — including a visual flow chart — of what happens, click here.
— María Méndez and Alex Ford
Despite scandals, voters have repeatedly backed Paxton
Since it became clear the Texas House would move forward with impeachment proceedings, Ken Paxton’s supporters have suggested that state lawmakers were overturning the will of the voters. And a top aide in the attorney general’s office said Paxton can’t be impeached for acts that occurred before his latest reelection.
Paxton, who has been dogged with scandal for years, easily won reelection in November against Democratic civil rights lawyer Rochelle Garza.
It was not a foregone conclusion. Political observers considered Paxton the weakest of all GOP incumbents running for reelection in 2022. Here’s what the Tribune wrote on election night:
“The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated,” Paxton said in his victory speech from Collin County.
Surrounded that night by supporters, members of the attorney general’s office and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, Paxton said he would continue to fight the federal government’s “overreach” into state affairs. Paxton has been a leader in challenging policies implemented by Democratic presidents on immigration, expansion of LGBTQ rights and COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
“Just because we won tonight, the fight is not over,” he said. “They’re going to continue to come after me, they’re going to continue to come after Texas. They’re going to continue to come after Republicans around the country and we cannot let them win.”
— Nic Garcia
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/05/26/ken-paxton-texas-impeachment-latest/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.