Texas House Committee Unanimously Recommends Impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton

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An investigative committee in the Texas House of Representatives has unanimously recommended articles of impeachment against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction), made the motion to adopt the articles of impeachment and file them with the chief clerk of the House. The recommendation came after a hearing where evidence was presented supporting allegations that Paxton abused his office by instructing his employees to provide favorable decisions for a friend, real estate developer Nate Paul.

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In response to the committee’s actions, Chris Hilton, chief of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) General Litigation Division, criticized the investigation, calling it an “illegal investigation.” Hilton argued that Texas law prohibits impeachment for alleged misconduct prior to an election, citing Texas Government Code Sec. 655.081. Hilton contended that the alleged wrongdoing by Paxton occurred before the election and that the voters had already made their decision.

Moments before the committee’s vote on impeachment, Paxton tweeted, “Overturning elections begins behind closed doors.” The committee had previously issued subpoenas to the OAG during the investigation, including two recent subpoenas to a person identified as “John Doe Number 6,” believed to be Paxton, and the OAG itself. The committee interviewed a total of 15 witnesses during the probe, including four former employees who filed a Whistleblower lawsuit against Paxton: David Maxwell, Ryan Vassar, Mark Penley, and Blake Brickman.

The House General Investigating Committee, composed of Reps. Ann Johnson (D-Houston), Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), Oscar Longoria (D-Mission), David Spiller (R-Jacksboro), and Chairman Andrew Murr, launched the investigation in March after Paxton and his office requested funding from the Legislature to cover a $3.3 million settlement he agreed to in the “Whistleblower” lawsuit with his former employees.

The committee’s actions occurred on the same day Paxton accused Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) of presiding over the Texas House of Representatives while intoxicated, based on a video of Phelan slurring his words. However, it has not been confirmed or proven that Phelan was intoxicated, and Phelan’s communications team dismissed Paxton’s accusation as a desperate attempt to save face.

Impeachment of Paxton would require a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate. If the House votes in favor of impeachment, Paxton would be temporarily removed from office while the Senate considers conviction.

Paxton’s office responded to the committee’s decision with a statement, denouncing it as an “illegitimate attempt to overthrow the will of the people.” Paxton criticized the committee for relying on a report based on hearsay and gossip and claimed that his office was not given an opportunity to provide the facts or seek a full accounting of the truth. He accused Speaker Dade Phelan of being a liberal and alleged that the “corrupted politicians” in the Texas Legislature were aiding the Biden administration.

Impeachment is a rare occurrence in the Texas Legislature. In 1917, Governor James E. Ferguson was impeached and removed from office on corruption charges, and in 1975, Judge O.P. Carrillo was impeached for public corruption. Earlier this month, the Texas House expelled Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) following a recommendation from the General Investigating Committee regarding an inappropriate sexual relationship with a staffer. The committee was granted permission to meet throughout the legislative session.

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Un comité investigador en la Cámara de Representantes de Texas recomendó artículos de destitución contra el Procurador General de Texas, Ken Paxton.

“El presidente propone que el comité adopte los artículos de destitución contra Warren Kenneth Paxton, procurador general del estado de Texas, según se establece en el proyecto de resolución, y que el presidente presente esa resolución al secretario principal de la Cámara”, dijo el representante Andrew Murr (R-Junction). La votación fue unánime.

El comité también aprobó por unanimidad una moción para enviar cartas de preservación al Departamento de Seguridad Pública de Texas en un esfuerzo por evitar la destrucción de cualquier evidencia relevante para el caso.

La recomendación se produjo después de una audiencia el miércoles en la que los investigadores del comité presentaron pruebas que han recopilado que respaldan las acusaciones de que Paxton abusó de su cargo al ordenar a sus empleados que emitieran decisiones favorables para uno de sus amigos, el desarrollador inmobiliario Nate Paul.

Chris Hilton, jefe de la División de Litigios Generales de la Oficina del Procurador General (OAG), dijo a los periodistas mientras el comité se reunía en sesión ejecutiva que su investigación es una “investigación ilegal”.

“Cualquier discusión sobre destitución está completamente prohibida por la ley de Texas”, dijo Hilton.

El funcionario de la OAG señaló la Sección 655.081 del Código de Gobierno de Texas, que parece excluir la destitución por presuntas irregularidades anteriores a una elección. Hilton argumentó que las supuestas conductas incorrectas de Paxton ocurrieron antes de la elección y que los votantes ya se han pronunciado.

“Los votantes han hablado. Quieren a Ken Paxton”, dijo Hilton, acusando al comité de no permitir el testimonio de la oficina de Paxton. Hilton también afirmó que el comité está tratando de “frustrar la voluntad de los votantes”.

Minutos antes de que el comité votara sobre la destitución, Paxton tuiteó: “La anulación de elecciones comienza a puertas cerradas”.

El comité envió múltiples citaciones a la OAG durante la investigación, incluyendo dos esta semana a un “John Doe Número 6”, presumiblemente Paxton, y a la OAG misma. El comité dijo que entrevistó a un total de 15 testigos durante su investigación, incluyendo a los cuatro ex empleados que presentaron la demanda de denuncia de irregularidades: David Maxwell, Ryan Vassar, Mark Penley y Blake Brickman.

El día en que los investigadores emitieron las citaciones, Paxton acusó al presidente Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) de presidir la Cámara de Representantes de Texas bajo los efectos del alcohol, basándose en un video en el que Phelan balbuceaba. No se ha confirmado ni probado que Phelan estuviera ebrio, aunque el equipo de comunicaciones del presidente calificó la acusación de Paxton como un intento “desesperado” de “salvar la cara”.

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