On the final day of the 88th Legislature, lawmakers in the Texas House of Representatives delivered 20 articles of impeachment against Attorney General Ken Paxton.
By delivering the articles Monday, May 29, the Texas House triggered an impeachment process that is set to begin in the summer with a trial in the Texas Senate. Paxton’s impeachment is the first in the state since 1975 and only the third ever for an active state official.
Because he was impeached in an overwhelming vote 121-23, Paxton is unable to act in his capacity as attorney general. In Paxton’s absence, First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster is set to lead the Office of the Attorney General, according to numerous reports.
Paxton faces 20 articles of impeachment that detail a history of alleged misconduct within his office including bribery and abuse of office.
The Texas House tabbed 12 impeachment managers, seven Republicans and five Democrats, that will present the case for impeachment during a Senate trial. Among the House’s impeachment managers are Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Allen. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick appointed seven senators to a committee that will lay out the procedures for a trial.
Senators will lay out the procedures during a June 20 session in the Texas Senate with a trial set to begin no later than Aug. 28. It is unclear if Sen. Angela Paxton, the impeached attorney general’s wife, or Sen. Bryan Hughes, who is implicated in the articles of impeachment, will recuse themselves from the trial.
Paxton faces seven charges of disregard of official duty, specifically failing to defend a nonprofit organization — which his office is required to do — and abusing his office’s opinion process to benefit real estate investor Nate Paul, a donor to Paxton’s political campaign. He also faces charges related to his termination of whistleblowers within his office because of their termination and attempting to reach a settlement funded by public dollars.
There are also two counts of constitutional bribery pertaining to Paul’s employment of Paxton’s mistress and the renovation of Paxton’s home. The House approved a further two articles of impeachment detailing Paxton’s alleged obstruction of justice pertaining to charges of violating the Texas Securities Act and abusing the judicial process that led to delays in his trial for criminal securities fraud.
A further three articles pertaining to false statements in public records allege inaccurate statements pertaining to his own securities trading and the whistleblower report issued after complaints were filed against his office. The final three articles of impeachment pertain to dereliction of duty, conspiracy and attempted conspiracy and a misappropriation of public resources.