Texas’s Impeached Attorney General Acquitted by Fellow Republicans

Texas’s Impeached Attorney General Acquitted by Fellow Republicans – Following a dramatic impeachment trial that extended for over a week, Ken Paxton, the staunchly conservative Texas attorney general, has been cleared of all charges and will be able to resume his duties in his elected position.

Paxton faced a total of 16 impeachment articles during the trial, including allegations of bribery, dereliction of duty, and neglect of official responsibilities. Additionally, there were four separate articles brought against him. Remarkably, he managed to avoid becoming the highest-ranking elected official in Texas to be removed from office. 

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Historically, only two successful impeachments of Texas state officials have occurred: Governor James “Pa” Ferguson in 1917 and a district judge in 1975. In the Senate voting session held on Saturday, a conviction required 21 votes on any single article. The majority of senators voted to acquit Paxton, and this voting pattern largely followed party lines. 

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At present, Republicans hold a dominant 19-12 majority in the chamber. The majority of the impeachment articles received 14 affirmative votes and 16 negative votes. Notably, Article 3, which focused on the misuse of the open records process, exhibited the most significant difference in voting, with only two in favor and 28 opposed.

It’s worth noting that Ken Paxton himself was absent from the chamber during these votes. Throughout Paxton’s trial, testimony was provided by former employees of the attorney general’s office who had alerted the FBI about their boss’s questionable behavior. 

Additionally, Nate Paul, a prosperous Republican campaign contributor and Austin real estate developer, was implicated in a web of favors exchanged with Paxton, including Paxton requesting employment for his former girlfriend by Paul. Notably, Paxton’s former girlfriend did not provide testimony during the trial.

In closing arguments on Friday, Andrew Murr, the Republican state representative and house impeachment manager chair, said: “He may claim to be one of us. But unlike the public servants here today, he has no regard for the principles of honor and integrity.”

Despite entering a plea of not guilty, Ken Paxton was notably absent for almost the entirety of the trial, which proved to be a source of frustration for the prosecutors. Meanwhile, Angela Paxton, his spouse and a state senator, attended the trial and was counted among the total number of senators present. 

However, due to her clear conflict of interest, she was prohibited from participating in the voting process. Ken Paxton’s term as attorney general has been marked by a series of controversies right from the start. Back in 2014, prior to his election, he faced penalties from the Texas State Securities Board for violating financial regulations, and this marked the beginning of a string of scandals.

Former colleagues of Paxton raised concerns with federal authorities, alleging that he had abused his authority by accepting donations in the form of bribes from individuals like Paul. In an effort to settle these whistleblowers’ claims, Paxton attempted to utilize state funds amounting to nearly $3 million, but he failed to secure the required approval from the state legislature. 

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Nonetheless, his endeavor did not go unnoticed. During Saturday’s voting session, Blake Brickman, the former deputy attorney general responsible for policy strategy and one of the individuals who blew the whistle on Paxton to federal authorities, reportedly exited the chamber, according to Monica Madden of KXAN.

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Ken Paxton was officially impeached back in May and was promptly suspended from his role as attorney general. In a rhetoric that appeared reminiscent of former President Trump, who is an ally of the Republican party, Paxton’s defense attorneys characterized the impeachment as a politically motivated witch-hunt. 

However, it’s worth noting that, unlike Trump, it was predominantly fellow Republicans who turned against Paxton. Known as a far-right figure in Texas, Paxton is credited with architecting some of the most stringent voting restrictions implemented in the state. He also supports statewide prohibitions on reproductive choice and gender-affirming healthcare.

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