Texas House to vote on Paxton impeachment Saturday

The Texas House of Representatives will vote on articles of impeachment against Attorney General Ken Paxton on Saturday at 1 p.m., according to a memo sent out by the General Investigating Committee on Friday.

On Thurdsay, Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction), chair of the committee, released 20 articles of impeachment against the sitting and embattled attorney general and recommended his conviction.

The probe has been ongoing for months, only known as “Matter A” until this week when the committee made the subject of its inquiry public.

“First, the committee wishes to note that its inquiry was initiated in March 2023 because Ken Paxton and his agency asked the Legislature for $3.3 million of public funds to settle a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by whistleblowers in the Office of the Attorney General,” the memo reads.

The “Whistleblower Act” lawsuit was filed in November 2020 against the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) by four now-former employees alleging abuse of office conduct by Paxton; each was eventually fired. Paxton reached a settlement with those employees in February for $3.3 million, an agreement that has since been in limbo because of the Legislature’s balking at financing the payout.

The memo adds, “We cannot over-emphasize the fact that, but for Paxton’s own request for a taxpayer-funded settlement over his wrongful conduct, Paxton would not be facing impeachment by the House.”

The Legislature’s final 2024-2025 biennium budget excludes funding for the settlement and includes an explicit prohibition against the OAG using any of its appropriated funding to pay the settlement.

Murr’s memo further outlines the impeachment process: there will be four hours of debate on the resolution, allotted equally between proponents and opponents. The committee then suggests allocating 40 minutes for opening presentations and 20 minutes for closing statements. A majority vote is required to impeach Paxton in the House. To convict in the Senate, it requires a two-thirds vote — though Paxton would be suspended from his position while the upper chamber considers conviction.

The memo further adds, “Because of Paxton’s long-standing pattern of abuse of office and public trust, disregard and dereliction of duty, and obstruction of justice and abuse of judicial process, it is imperative that the House proceed with impeachment so that Paxton is prevented from using the significant powers granted to the attorney general to further obstruct and delay justice.”

At the committee’s Thursday hearing, an OAG employee, Chief Litigant Chris Hilton, appeared and criticized the process. He also cited Texas Government Code Sec. 665.081 which reads, “An officer in this state may not be removed from office for an act the officer may have committed before the officer’s election to office.”

Hilton asserted that version of code, colloquially known as the “forgiveness doctrine,” means that Paxton cannot be legally impeached for actions before his most recent election. Paxton won re-election last year.

The committee’s memo specifically addressed this claim, saying the “forgiveness doctrine” doesn’t apply to impeachment based on previous case law. It also pointed to the 1917 impeachment of then-Gov. James “Pa” Ferguson for actions “before and during” the 1916 election.
Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher is the editor and publisher of High Plains Pundit. Dan is also the host of the popular High Plains Pundit Podcast.

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