The Republican Party of Texas is backing embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton against an impeachment push by the Republican-controlled House.
As reported by The Dallas Express, articles of impeachment have been filed following a months-long probe by the House General Investigating Committee, laying out 20 counts of alleged breaches of duty, illegal activities, and abuses of office.
In response to the articles of impeachment, Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi, a frequent critic of Phelan’s leadership, denounced the House’s actions.
“Speaker Dade Phelan and his leadership team have appointed Democrats to high ranking leadership positions, attacked the Republican Party of Texas, battled our conservative Lieutenant Governor, and killed Governor Abbott’s top priorities,” Rinaldi claimed.
“The impeachment proceedings against the Attorney General are but the latest front in the Texas House’s war against Republicans to stop the conservative direction of our state,” he continued. “This sham impeachment is the result of the Phelan leadership team empowering Democrats, allowing them to hold leadership positions and letting them control the agenda.”
“It is based on allegations already litigated by voters, led by a liberal Speaker trying to undermine his conservative adversaries, and investigated by lawyers connected to a Democrat on the House General Investigations Committee,” Rinaldi said.
“Now the Texas House is trying to overturn the election results,” he claimed.
The Republican-majority House is led by Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), who has been publicly at odds with the attorney general prior to the recent standoff.
After the Office of the Attorney General and whistleblowers who accused Paxton of unlawful action agreed to a $3.3 million settlement, Paxton turned to the legislature to pay the bill. However, Phelan quickly rejected the idea, as reported by The Dallas Express.
Although the General Investigating Committee had been pursuing Paxton since March, the first hearing was not until May 23. A few hours beforehand, Paxton publicly called for Phelan to resign for allegedly being intoxicated during House deliberations.
Pointing to a video from May 19 of Speaker Phelan struggling to stand and heavily slurring his words, Paxton echoed the concerns many viewers had that Phelan was “in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication.”
To date, Phelan has not explained the incident, refusing to answer whether or not he was drunk or suffering from a medical episode. Since then, an additional six minutes of recordings have been released that show Phelan struggling to speak, prompting even more claims that he has been regularly intoxicated while on the floor.
BREAKING: I have obtained over 6 minutes of Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan being either drunk or having mini strokes while presiding over the Texas House of Reps. pic.twitter.com/4SOXmT7SHA
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 24, 2023
Other Texas Republicans have joined in denouncing the impeachment effort and Phelan’s perceived lack of support for Republican priorities throughout the legislative session.
In a statement received by The Dallas Express, Texans for Strong Borders President Chris Russo explained, “Speaker Dade Phelan should immediately revert his attention to addressing the border crisis and advancing legislation that will repel border crossings and remove illegal aliens entering the state. It is past time for him to prioritize the welfare of Texans above the narrow political interests of a select few.”
“Dade Phelan’s recent actions divert attention away from this urgent crisis, and instead focus on attacking his political opponents, making a complete mockery of the Texas House,” Russo said.
Additionally, former House member Jonathan Stickland tweeted, “It’s time for real Republicans to unite against #DrunkDade /the Democrats attempt to kill our legislative priorities and take down conservative @KenPaxtonTX.”
Paxton replied to Stickland, tweeting, “Thank you.”
However, some Republicans in the House have indicated that they will support impeachment.
Rep. Carl Tepper (R-Lubbock) tweeted that he “[w]atched the hearings on AG Ken Paxton. Witnesses seemed quite credible and testimony [was] damning.”
“Of course, the AG deserves a defense but that doesn’t happen until the trial. In this case that’ll be in the senate if the impeach[ment] resolution prevails. We’ll take this seriously,” he added.
Rep. Tepper was subsequently warned against voting to impeach Paxton by political commentator Sara Gonzales, who tweeted, “I can promise you, if you overturn the will of the people, you will regret it.”
Other Republican House members have expressed serious concern over the process and motivations behind the impeachment push.
Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) stated, “The simple truth is that the evidentiary basis to impeach Attorney General Paxton has not been properly established.”
For his part, Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) said, “The impeachment process, thus far, is not confidence inspiring.”
It is expected that all of the House Democrats will vote to impeach Paxton, and several have already announced their intentions.
Democratic Party of Texas Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa claimed, “Ken Paxton is a liar, a fraud, and now, as nonpartisan and Republican-led investigations have found, a criminal caught red-handed multiple times during his tenure as Attorney General.”
“This crook should have gone to jail years ago. Texans demand and deserve accountability,” he argued. “While we fully support the Texas House voting to impeach Ken Paxton — we think it would be better for all Texans if he saved legislators the trouble, and taxpayer money, and just resigned on his own accord.”
For his part, Speaker Phelan has also indicated that he supports impeachment.
Phelan spokesperson Cait Wittman said, “The Attorney General appears to have routinely abused his powers for personal gain and exhibited blatant disregard for the ethical and legal propriety expected of the state’s leading law enforcement officer.”
“Speaker Phelan stands in full support of the General Investigating Committee and the recommendations that may come as a result of their thorough and diligent investigation,” Wittman added.
However, Paxton’s aggressive litigation against the policies of President Joe Biden’s administration has earned the Attorney General support from those outside of the state as well.
Stephen Miller, the founder of American First Legal and a senior advisor to former President Donald Trump, tweeted, “No State AG has fought against Biden’s illegal conduct more relentlessly than @KenPaxtonTX. Stand with Ken.”
Similarly, former Florida state lawmaker Anthony Sabatini tweeted, “AG @KenPaxtonTX is the best Attorney General in the Nation — these RINO scumbags in the Texas House should be ashamed.”
Wade Miller, the executive director of Citizens for Renewing America, turned the attention onto Phelan, tweeting, “Everyone who voted for @DadePhelan as Speaker of the Texas House should be ashamed.”
As reported by The Dallas Express, Phelan was re-elected to the speakership with the unanimous support of Democrats and the near-unanimous vote of Republican House members. Only three Republican members broke away from Phelan and voted for Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), including Tinderholt himself.
The House will consider the articles of impeachment at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 27.