Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to anti-abortion supporters extracurricular the U.S. Supreme Court, November 1, 2021.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
Texas' GOP-led House of Representatives was acceptable to clasp historical impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Ken Paxton connected Saturday arsenic the scandal-plagued Republican called connected supporters to protestation a ballot that could pb to his ouster.
The House scheduled an day commencement for statement connected whether to impeach and suspend Paxton from bureau implicit allegations of bribery, unfitness for bureau and maltreatment of nationalist spot — conscionable immoderate of the accusations that person trailed Texas' apical lawyer for astir of his 3 terms.
The proceeding sets up what could beryllium a remarkably abrupt downfall for 1 of the GOP's astir salient ineligible combatants, who successful 2020 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn President Joe Biden's electoral decision of Donald Trump. Only 2 officials successful Texas' astir 200-year past person been impeached.
Paxton, 60, has called the impeachment proceedings "political theater" based connected "hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims," and an effort to disenfranchise voters who reelected him successful November. On Friday, helium asked supporters "to peacefully travel fto their voices beryllium heard astatine the Capitol tomorrow."
Paxton has been nether FBI probe for years implicit accusations that helium utilized his bureau to assistance a donor and was separately indicted connected securities fraud charges successful 2015, though helium has yet to basal trial. Until this week his chap Republicans person taken a muted stance connected the allegations.
Impeachment requires conscionable a elemental bulk successful the House. That means lone a tiny fraction of its 85 Republicans would request to articulation 64 Democrats successful voting against him.
If impeached, Paxton would beryllium removed from bureau pending a Senate trial, and it would autumn to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to name an interim replacement. Final removal would necessitate a two-thirds ballot successful the Senate, wherever Paxton's wife's, Angela, is simply a member.
Texas' apical elected Republicans person been notably quiescent astir Paxton this week. But immoderate enactment members began to rally astir him Friday, with the authorities GOP chairman, Matt Rinaldi, calling the process a "sham."
In 1 sense, Paxton's governmental peril arrived with dizzying speed: The House committee's probe of him came to airy Tuesday, and by Thursday lawmakers issued 20 articles of impeachment.
But to Paxton's detractors, the rebuke was years overdue.
In 2014, helium admitted to violating Texas securities law, and a twelvemonth aboriginal helium was indicted connected securities fraud charges successful his hometown adjacent Dallas, accused of defrauding investors successful a tech startup. He pleaded not blameworthy to 2 felony counts carrying a imaginable condemnation of 5 to 99 years.
He opened a ineligible defence money and accepted $100,000 from an enforcement whose institution was nether probe by Paxton's bureau for Medicaid fraud. An further $50,000 was donated by an Arizona retiree whose lad Paxton aboriginal hired to a high-ranking occupation but was soon fired aft displaying kid pornography successful a meeting. In 2020, Paxton intervened successful a Colorado upland assemblage wherever a Texas donor and assemblage classmate faced removal from his lakeside location nether coronavirus orders.
But what yet unleased the impeachment propulsion was Paxton's narration with Austin existent property developer Nate Paul.
In 2020, 8 apical aides told the FBI they were acrophobic Paxton was misusing his bureau to assistance Paul implicit the developer's unproven claims that an elaborate conspiracy to bargain $200 cardinal of his properties was afoot. The FBI searched Paul's location successful 2019, but helium has not been charged and denies wrongdoing. Paxton besides told unit members helium had an matter with a pistillate who, it aboriginal emerged, worked for Paul.
The impeachment accuses Paxton of attempting to interfere successful foreclosure lawsuits and issuing ineligible opinions to payment Paul. Its bribery charges allege that Paul employed the pistillate with whom Paxton had an matter successful speech for ineligible assistance and that helium paid for costly renovations to the lawyer general's home.
A elder lawyer for Paxton's office, Chris Hilton, said Friday that the lawyer wide paid for each repairs and renovations.
Other charges, including lying to investigators, day backmost to Paxton's still-pending securities fraud indictment.
Four of the aides who reported Paxton to the FBI aboriginal sued nether Texas' whistleblower law, and successful February helium agreed to settee the lawsuit for $3.3 million. The House committee said it was Paxton seeking legislative support for the payout that sparked their probe.
"But for Paxton's ain petition for a taxpayer-funded colony implicit his wrongful conduct, Paxton would not beryllium facing impeachment," the sheet said.