AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The Texas Senate will begin impeachment proceedings against him on Tuesday Attorney General Ken Paxton, a political reckoning of years of alleged corruption that could lead to his final impeachment.
The fate of Paxton, a 60-year-old Republican, rests in the hands of the Republican senators he served with before winning a statewide race to head the attorney general’s office in 2015.
At a time of bitter partisanship, the historic trial is a rare example of a political party attempting to hold one of its own to account for allegations of wrongdoing. The impeachment was also a sudden rebuke for Paxton, who has made a name for himself by dealing with high-profile litigation, including trying to make a name for himself nationally rush the 2020 presidential electionand who won a third term in 2022 despite long-pending state criminal charges and an FBI investigation.
The Republican-led House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to impeach Paxton in May, largely over claims by his former deputies that the attorney general used his power to help a wealthy donor who returned the favor with favors, including hiring a woman with whom Paxton had an extramarital affair. The 20 articles of impeachment include abuse of public trust, unfitness and bribery.
The 121-23 vote immediately voted Paxton out of office, making him the third incumbent officer in Texas’ nearly 200-year history to face impeachment.
Paxton called the impeachment a “politically motivated fraud” and an attempt to disenfranchise his constituents. The attorney general’s attorneys say he will not testify in the Senate trial. He has said he expects an acquittal.
Paxton faces a jury — the state’s 31 senators — composed of his ideological allies and a “judge,” Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who borrowed $125,000 for his last re-election campaign. His wife, Senator Angela Paxton, will attend the hearing but will not attend or vote. Two other senators are implicated in the allegations against Paxton.
A two-thirds majority – or 21 senators – is required for a conviction. That means if all 12 Senate Democrats vote against Paxton, at least nine of the 19 Republicans still have to vote.
The process will probably bring something new evidence. But the outline of the allegations against Paxton have been public since 2020, when eight of his top deputies told the FBI that the attorney general was breaking the law to help Austin real estate developer Nate Paul.
The deputies — mostly conservatives whom Paxton selected for their posts — told investigators that Paxton acted against their advice and hired an outside attorney to investigate Paul’s allegations of FBI misconduct in its investigation into the developer. They also said Paxton pressured its staff to take other actions that helped Paul.
In exchange, Paul reportedly hired a former adviser to a Republican senator with whom Paxton was having an affair and funded the renovations one of the Attorney General’s plots, a million dollar home in Austin.
Paul was charged with federal felonies in June he made false statements to banks to secure more than $170 million in loans. He pleaded not guilty and broadly denied wrongdoing in dealing with Paxton.
According to a memo from an employee who contacted the FBI, the two men shared a common sense that they were the target of corrupt law enforcement agencies. Paxton was charged Allegations of securities fraud in 2015 but has yet to stand trial. The Senate is not addressing, at least initially, three impeachment articles relating to the alleged securities fraud and a fourth relating to Paxton’s ethics motions.
federal prosecutors continues to investigate Paul and Paxton’s relationship, so the evidence presented during his impeachment trial poses both a legal and political risk to the attorney general.
After going to the FBI, all eight of Paxton’s deputies resigned or were fired. Their departures led to a brain drain of other experienced attorneys and caused the Attorney General’s office to become aggravated Dysfunction behind the scenes.
Four of the deputies later sued Paxton pursuant to the State Whistleblower Act. The bipartisan group of lawmakers that led Paxton’s impeachment in the House of Representatives said it was he who sought it $3.3 million taxpayer Money to settle with the group, which led them to investigate his dealings.