Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s first legal counsel pick for the impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton has declined to serve over a political donation made back in 2021.

According to the rules adopted by the Senate, Patrick is permitted to “select legal counsel licensed in the State of Texas who is not a registered lobbyist in this State.”

“Legal counsel for the presiding officer may consult on matters related to all rulings, orders, mandates, writs, questions of evidence, and processes authorized by the rules of the court of impeachment,” the rules continue. “The legal counsel selected must be knowledgeable about the Texas Rules of Evidence.”

For his initial pick, the lieutenant governor chose Marc Brown, who had formerly served on Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals.

“I was looking for a candidate with real-life courtroom experience as a lawyer and a judge who would serve as counsel and work side-by-side with me through this process,” Patrick explained in a press release sent to The Dallas Express.

“Justice Brown meets these criteria with his years of front-line experience as a courtroom lawyer and trial court judge and also brings a well-rounded perspective from his experience as a former appellate justice,” he continued. “I am pleased to have found such a well-qualified candidate, and I am confident he will further the Senate’s pursuit of a fair and impartial trial.”

However, Brown formally declined the appointment in a letter to Patrick on August 19.

“During meetings with your staff regarding the above position, my political activities and relationships to the participants in this matter were discussed,” Brown explained in the letter. “Until today, I had no recollection of any relevant matters.”

“I now recall in November 2021 my wife and I contributed $250 to the Eva Guzman campaign. I did not recall that during our meetings with your staff,” Brown wrote.

Guzman had challenged Paxton in the Republican primary for attorney general.

“I have full confidence in my ability to fairly offer legal advice in this matter,” the former judge continued. “However, the proceedings … are far too important to the State of Texas for there to be any distractions involving allegations of favoritism or personal bias on my part.”

In response to Brown’s letter, Lt. Gov. Patrick said, “Today, we received the following letter from Justice Marc Brown, who I appointed to be my legal counsel during the impeachment proceedings. I accepted his declination to serve.”

Patrick has not given any further indication over who he might pick to serve as his legal counsel during the impeachment proceedings. The trial will begin on September 5.