Speaker of the Texas House Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) recently defended the process used to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton, a high-profile political opponent.

Paxton, who has been elected AG three times, had publicly sparred with Phelan shortly before the impeachment proceedings were revealed. After videos went viral showing the speaker allegedly drunk from the dais, Paxton called for his resignation.


Shortly after that, the House General Investigating Committee announced articles of impeachment against the AG, and within 48 hours, Phelan had called the question to a vote. More Democrat representatives (61) voted for impeachment than Republicans (60), while 23 of the latter party’s members voted no.

Phelan defended the process by falling back on the claim that the secret investigation came after Paxton requested a $3.3 million settlement be publicly funded. Whistleblowers from the Office of the Attorney General alleged Paxton had wrongfully punished them after reporting the potential misconduct but agreed to settle the matter after several years of litigation.

“We started an investigation to see if that was a worthy use of taxpayer dollars and that started months and months and months ago. It was not public until May for a very good reason,” Phelan insisted, per KXAN. “I stand behind what happened in the House, and I’m proud of the work product that the board of managers put forth. And we have a good team. And it was the right thing to do.”

Turning his attention to the upcoming trial, Phelan added, “I hope external pressures will not play a part in what I think is a very important piece of democracy, and that is a checks and balances on someone who did something wrong.”

“And I hope that the senators don’t in any way, feel any pressure from outside sources,” he continued.

Despite often being at odds with the Senate on a number of issues, the speaker did, however, indicate his approval of the trial rules adopted by the Senate.

“I firmly believe that Lieutenant Governor Patrick and his senators will give a very fair trial to Mr. Paxton,” Phelan noted. “The rules seem very fair to me for everyone involved in this process.”

Since the interview was conducted, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has issued a gag order significantly restricting the ability of those involved with the process from speaking about it publicly, as The Dallas Express reported.

However, the AG’s impeachment has been widely denounced by Republican groups across the state, including Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi, as covered by The Dallas Express.

The impeachment “was absolutely a disgrace. It was done with zero [due] process,” Rinaldi said. “It was entirely political. It was a political hit job on the attorney general. And it was an absolute disgrace.”

“House Republicans, whether they admit it or not, sided with Phelan because the Speaker whipped the vote, indicating failure to do [so] would be punished,” the party leader added, laying the blame directly on Phelan. “It’s revealing that not a single Republican was talking about impeachment before the Speaker first brought it up 48 hours before the vote.”

Similarly, many county-level Republican organizations have condemned Phelan, the House process, and the impeachment, including several in North Texas. Recently, Dallas County GOP criticized the way impeachment was done, suggesting it “failed to comply with applicable law and historical precedent,” as reported in The Dallas Express.