By Greg Ritchie
AUSTIN – The Texas House of Representatives voted in a 121-23 margin to impeach Texas Attorney General (AG) Kenneth Paxton on charges of corruption, abusing his office’s powers, retaliating against whistle blowers and obstructing justice.
By state law, Paxton is temporarily suspended from office pending trial with First Assistant AG Brent Webster taking over until the impeachment trial is concluded, although Texas Governor Greg Abbott can appoint a different interim AG at any time.
Two members voted present with many GOP lawmakers voting for impeachment. Paxton recently won reelection to the AG post in November.
Party lines and affiliations were confused during the voting with GOP Representative Andrew Murr saying in his closing statement, “The evidence is substantial, alarming and unnerving.”
Meanwhile, Democrat Representative Harold Dutton voted ‘present,’ saying, “The process is abbreviated to the point that is just encroaches on due process.”
The impeachment stems from allegations Paxton used his office to help wealthy donors, one of which allegedly gave Paxton’s mistress a job at one of his companies.
Minutes after the vote, Paxton referred to the impeachment as a “politically motivated sham.”
“The ugly spectacle in the Texas House today confirmed the outrageous impeachment plot against me was never meant to be fair or just,” he said.
Paxton’s wife Angela is a member of the Texas Senate and will have to vote on whether or not to convict her husband.
Six members of Paxton’s staff at the AG office have taken a leave of absence in order to defend Paxton in the state senate.
Paxton becomes only the third statewide elected official to be impeached in the last 100 years. The twenty articles of impeachment will go before the senate which must have a two-thirds vote to move forward with the conviction.
Many conservatives decried the impeachment, saying it was payback for Paxton’s defense of President Donald Trump and his fight to overturn or recount some of the election results from the 2020 election. Interim AG Webster was also a party to those election lawsuits, pushing for the election results from four states to be overturned.
The Texas Senate created a seven-member committee to work out the rules of impeachment before June 20. The trial will take place before Aug. 28, with no firm trial date as of press time.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]