Impeachment May Be Inevitable for Texas AG Ken Paxton Amidst Allegations
Written by: Sam Orlando
AUSTIN, Texas - Embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stands on the precipice of impeachment after years of controversy, criminal charges, and corruption allegations that had largely been met with muted responses from the state's Republican majority.
In an unanimous decision on Thursday, a Republican-led House investigative committee recommended Paxton's impeachment on 20 articles including bribery, unfitness for office, and abuse of public trust, after a months-long investigation. Paxton could face a House vote on this recommendation as early as Friday, and if impeached, he would be required to leave office immediately.
This development signals a potential abrupt downfall for Paxton, a notable GOP figure, who had notably appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn President Joe Biden's victory in 2020. Only two officials in Texas' nearly 200-year history have faced impeachment.
Paxton's legal troubles include an FBI investigation over accusations that he used his office to help a donor, and a separate indictment on securities fraud charges in 2015, which is still pending trial.
When the investigative committee's efforts became public on Tuesday, Paxton claimed it was a political attack led by the House's "liberal" Republican speaker, Dade Phelan. He called for Phelan's resignation and accused him of being inebriated during a marathon session last Friday, which Phelan's office dismissed as an attempt by Paxton to "save face."
"The RINOs in the Texas Legislature are now on the same side as Joe Biden," Paxton declared, suggesting a betrayal by his own party.
The impeachment articles issued by the investigative committee largely stem from Paxton's relationship with a wealthy donor and alleged attempts to protect this donor from an FBI investigation. Paxton is also accused of thwarting whistleblower complaints within his staff.
If impeached, Republican Governor Greg Abbott could appoint an interim replacement until a Senate trial is held. Final removal would require two-thirds support in the Senate, where Paxton's wife, Angela, is a member.
Despite an array of allegations, Paxton was elected to a third term just seven months ago. His potential impeachment could mark a pivotal moment for the rule of law in Texas.
Though this week's developments have come at an extraordinary pace, some detractors argue that Paxton's potential impeachment is long overdue. Paxton was indicted in 2015 on felony charges of defrauding investors in a tech startup and has been involved in multiple other scandals since then.
Paxton's fate now rests in the hands of the Texas House, which has only twice impeached a sitting official: Governor James Ferguson in 1917 and state Judge O.P. Carrillo in 1975.