Patrick requests special audit on cost of Paxton impeachment trial

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has asked the state auditor to conduct a full review of the costs incurred by the State of Texas during the impeachment saga of Attorney General Ken Paxton.

In his fiery post-acquittal speech on Saturday, Patrick called for reforms to the impeachment process and suggested an audit. On Monday, he issued the formal request to the state auditor, Lisa Collier.

“I request that the State Auditor's office immediately begin a special audit … to determine the total amount of financial expenditures, encumbrances and future unpaid obligations by the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas Senate, and all other legislative entities receiving appropriations through Article X of the State General Appropriations Act, and the Office of the Attorney General,” he wrote.

“To be clear, the goal is to determine the absolute total cost to the state of preparing for and conducting this trial from the beginning through its conclusion. This must detail all expenses, including but not limited to, investigators expenses, document production and assembly, attorney expenses, witness fees, travel, food and lodging.”

Patrick’s time period floated for the audit is March 1, 2023 through October 15, 2023. He asked that Collier provide each member of the Legislature with a copy of the final report.

The Texas House General Investigating Committee began looking into the Office of the Attorney General’s funding request for the $3.3 million settlement agreed to in the then-ongoing Texas Whistleblower Act lawsuit that led to Paxton’s impeachment.

The committee assembled a team of investigators to conduct interviews with the “whistleblowers” and other individuals privy to the allegations, testimony that served as the basis for the impeachment.

Attorneys Rusty Hardin and Dick DeGuerin were hired to lead the House Board of Managers’ “prosecution” of Paxton during the trial. According to previous media reports, the pair’s rate was $500 per hour.

Legislators are paid $221 in per diems for regular and special sessions. Cost estimates for special sessions are between $2 million and $3 million, which includes an office funding bump — though this trial is a different scenario as only the Senate was in session.

In his Saturday speech, Patrick pointed the finger across the Capitol rotunda, saying, “We will provide our costs as well that were forced on us by the House impeachment.”

“One big difference is that the Senate did not pay a huge team of outside lawyers and investigators.”

While the House hired its own team of attorneys, Patrick did enlist the services of Justice Lana Myers to assist him with oversight of the trial.

The audit is simply one of the initial steps in the post-verdict fallout — a fallout that has so far seen the lieutenant governor and speaker of the House lobbing rhetorical grenades at each other, renewing the public feud that bubbled over on property taxes this year.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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