The Texas House General Investigating Committee has unanimously voted to begin impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The vote is the latest salvo in the recent conflict between AG Paxton and House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) that exploded this week.
The committee has been hearing testimony from investigators concerning alleged misdeeds and criminal action by Paxton, as reported by The Dallas Express. The House probe into Paxton began as early as March and was ostensibly related to Paxton’s request that Texas taxpayers fund a $3.3 million settlement in a whistleblower case.
Immediately prior to the first public meeting, however, Paxton called for Phelan’s resignation after a video of the Speaker slurring his words went viral, leading to allegations that he was drunk on the House floor.
So far, Phelan has refused to answer questions about whether he was drunk or suffering from an undisclosed medical emergency, as reported by The Dallas Express.
Paxton responded to the vote by sharing a video of a spokesman denouncing the committee’s decision, adding that “Overturning elections begins behind closed doors.”
Overturning elections begins behind closed doors.
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) May 25, 2023
Chris Hilton, chief of the General Litigation Division at the Office of Attorney General, said the proceedings were “filled with falsehoods and misrepresentations.”
“They have never reached out to our office to determine whether anything contained in that testimony yesterday was remotely true. The process here has been completely lacking.”
“The people deserve to hear from this office and the context of this investigation. Furthermore, this is an illegal investigation,” Hilton claimed. “Any discussion of impeachment is completely foreclosed by Texas law.”
“Texas Government Code 665.081 says clearly that any proposed impeachment can only be about conduct since the most recent election. The voters have spoken, they want Ken Paxton.”
While that section of the code does stipulate that “An officer in this state may not be removed from office for an act the office may have committed before the officer’s election to office,” it does not specify that it refers only to the most recent election.
Hilton continued, “And this committee, by investigating him, by not allowing us to be heard here today, by never reaching out to us at any time through this investigative process, is trying to thwart the will of voters.”
“They should have let me register to testify as a resource witness. They should have asked our office about any of the facts they heard yesterday, which, by the way, have been reported for years,” he added.
“The 2022 election … was run on these allegations,” he said. “The people have spoken. They want Ken Paxton as their attorney general. This committee should hear from us today.”
At this point, Hilton was kicked out of the room.
Political commentator Michael Sullivan tweeted, “#DrunkDade and his cult in the @TXGOPCaucus have already spent the session achieving a race anti-Texas trifecta: killing @TexasGOP priorities, undermining @GregAbbott_TX, and attacking @DanPatrick and the #TxLege Senate.”
“Now, they want to undermine the ’22 election?”
It is expected that the House will have a vote for impeachment by Saturday.
NOW: A Republican-led House committee voted to send articles of impeachment to the full House to consider.
Multiple sources tell me a vote will happen by Saturday – if not before.
If the House approves impeachment, Paxton would face trial in the Senate. #txlege https://t.co/AeGRb9L27q
— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) May 25, 2023
Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) has openly suggested that there are enough Republican votes to impeach the embattled AG.
“The Attorney General is a stain on our State, and his attacks on Speaker Phelan are his tantrum for the Texas House not authorizing his [multimillion-dollar payoff] to the whistleblowers who pulled back the curtain on his crimes,” Canales suggested.
The Attorney General is a stain on our State, and his attacks on Speaker Phelan are his tantrum for the Texas House not aurhorizing his multi million dollar payoff to the whistleblowers who pulled back the curtain on his crimes. https://t.co/khaGdfEK7i
— Terry Canales (@TerryCanales40) May 23, 2023
He added, “I would vote for impeachment. I sat in on the House Investigating Committee this morning and I didn’t have enough fingers and toes to count the felonies outline by the testimony has gotnto [sic].”