The Texas House of Representatives voted Saturday to impeach Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton over charges of bribery, disregard of official duties and abuse of public trust after hours of debate in an afternoon session — sending the case to the state Senate.
The House voted 121-23 to impeach him, meaning he will step down temporarily as he faces trial in the upper chamber. A simple majority was required to impeach him.
The House’s Committee on General Investigating had initiated an inquiry in March after Paxton and his office asked the legislature for $3.3 million to settle a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by whistleblowers in the office. The former employees had called in 2020 for an investigation into Paxton’s actions regarding an Austin real estate investor who had his home searched by the FBI. They accused Paxton of using his office to protect him by authorizing an investigation into the FBI.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during a rally featuring former President Donald Trump, Oct. 22, 2022, in Robstown, Texas. (AP Photo/Nick Wagner, File)
It is the latest allegation of wrongdoing against the conservative firebrand — who has launched a number of high-profile lawsuits in support of conservative causes and against the Biden administration. He was indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015, but has yet to stand trial.
Paxton has dismissed the impeachment push as “political theater” based on “hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims.”
“That’s why the swamp in Austin wants him out,” he continued. “The special interests don’t want a steadfast conservative AG. I understand that people are concerned about Ken’s legal challenges. But the courts should sort them out.”
Paxton posted a statement to Twitter after the impeachment, writing “I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate, where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just.”
“The ugly spectacle in the Texas House today confirmed the outrageous impeachment plot against me was never meant to be fair or just. It was a politically motivated sham from the beginning,” he said.
“Because he has no ability to win in a court of law. See, in a court of law, a judge will provide over that case and he will be treated just as any other civil or criminal defendant,” she said.
While some Republicans have backed impeachment, others had expressed concern about the method of the investigation and impeachment, calling it rushed and politicized.
“I don’t think today is about whether there’s guilt or innocence, it’s about process,” Rep. Tony Tinderholt said.