On Tuesday, the Texas Senate rejected all 16 pretrial motions to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Attorney General Ken Paxton. The Senate voted two-to-one against every motion to dismiss but one,” according to Texas Tribune reporting. Tuesday was the first day of efforts to remove the wildly popular AG. In the Senate trial, members of the House are acting as prosecutors, and the 31 senators are acting as jury. Now that dismissal has been taken off the table, the trial could go on for weeks, promising plenty of political posturing and theatre.
In May, the Texas House voted overwhelmingly 121-23 for Paxton’s impeachment. It is the first time a Texas AG has been impeached. As a result, Paxton has been suspended since May pending the Senate trial, which began Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. Many in the conservative grassroots community call Paxton’s impeachment and potential removal a political witchhunt.
Conservative grassroots activist group called the Texas True Project points out that the Texas Code clearly lays out the argument for an immediate dismissal of all articles of impeachment. Subchapter D, Sec. 665.081. of Title 6, Chapter 665 states, “(a) An officer in this state may not be removed from office for an act the officer may have committed before the officer’s election to office.” The Texas True Project contends Paxton’s removal “would overturn the will of the voters who were aware of all allegations prior to election days and still elected AG Paxton with considerable margins in both the primary runoff and the general election.”
Activists from the Texas True Project say Paxton has gotten a raw deal with his impeachment. An article from their website explains Paxton’s impeachment “reeks of political revenge” because voters “overwhelmingly want to keep Ken Paxton at the helm of the Attorney General’s Office. The prudent judicial process was not followed in the investigation leading up to the impeachment vote. The House Committee on General Investigation met in secret without the knowledge of the rest of the members of the House and without public access.”
The Texas True Project column reveals that the investigation is rife with “hearsay.” Not one witness was placed under oath as required by law. No exculpatory evidence was presented. Much of the investigation was conducted in “secret” by the General Investigating Committee, led by Republican Andrew Murr.
ICYMI: I asked questions of the Chairman of the General Investigating Committee. The fact is that those in the Texas House who voted to impeach the Attorney General did so without questioning any witnesses, without evidence, and with less than 48 hours to consider the issue. It's… pic.twitter.com/aSDMHLH877
— Rep. Tony Tinderholt (@reptinderholt) May 31, 2023
Moreover, says Texas True, there was a “rush” to impeach because House members were given little to no notice:
“House members were not informed of the investigation and were only notified when the Committee report was published, recommending impeachment. They were then given only 48 hours’ notice until the vote, and debate on the impeachment was limited to 4 hours. Why the rush? Previous impeachment investigations were held in public on the floor of the House, taking months to hear testimony and debate the issues. Before the vote, huge pressure was put on members who opposed the impeachment. This rushed process and the pressure from House leadership for members to vote for impeachment is shameful. House members were not allowed a separate vote on each article of impeachment. It was an all-or-nothing proposition.”
Why Is Paxton Being Impeached?
At the end of May, the Texas House ethics panel filed 20 articles of impeachment on Paxton. Charges include abuse of public trust, bribery, misuse of public office to obstruct justice, and other abuses. Four whistleblowers from Paxton’s office brought a federal lawsuit against the AG in 2020. “The whistleblowers are former deputies to Paxton who say they were fired in retribution for accusing him of corruption to law enforcement,” reports the Texas Tribune. According to the Austin Chronicle, it was Paxton’s request for taxpayer funding to cover settlement bills that prompted recommendations for impeachment:
“Paxton reached an agreement in February to pay the former employees $3.3 million—but he asked Texas taxpayers to cover the bill. Republican Rep. Andrew Murr, who led the General Investigating Committee that recommended Paxton’s impeachment, said Paxton’s request led directly to his impeachment. ‘We’re here today because the Attorney General asked the state legislature to fund a multimillion-dollar settlement against him, brought by the whistleblowers. There was no investigation prior to this.'”
The impeachment centers around Paxton’s investigation of the alleged “stealing” of real estate deals in Austin. The deals involve “mixed facts” surrounding a nonprofit and “potential serious corruption by the FBI and the Texas DPS or the Texas Rangers,” according to Tony Mack, a conservative Texas attorney. Mack contends Paxton is under scrutiny because he sided with “one guy,” Nate Paul, and not the foundation. NBC News reported, “Eight of his top deputies accused him in 2020 of allegedly abusing his office to help a wealthy donor, Nate Paul, resist an earlier FBI investigation of the developer.”
Paxton allegedly “used his office to aid Paul, ” also a major donor to Paxton. Paul was arrested on June 8 and placed in the Travis County jail. Paul has been under investigation by the FBI since 2019. According to the Texas Tribune, Paul “made a $25,000 political donation to Paxton in October 2018” before the FBI’s 2019 raid of his home.
How Does Impeachment of a Popular AG Happen in a Republican Majority State House?
Let’s say you believe Paxton did nothing wrong in his investigation. Why would a Republican majority (86-64) House impeach a popular conservative AG? Texas Republican Bush dynasty politics, that’s how.
Mack appeared on a special Labor Day weekend edition of Bannon’s War Room to discuss his belief that the Texas House is dominated by a coalition of Democrats and RINOS whose regard for the shift toward conservative populism in 2020 in Texas politics is almost non-existent. Texas may be the only state where it is common for Republicans to have formed this type of coalition in the House.
Democrats call Republicans racists, Nazis and a threat to democracy. It’s naive to think they would include the GOP in their governing coalition if they were in power. https://t.co/nz6jtvZWbs
— Matt Rinaldi (@MattRinaldiTX) July 12, 2022
“Democrats control government in the House” with the help of willing RINOS, says Mack. He references a new documentary entitled “The Texas Heist” that exposes how deals are brokered behind the scenes to deliver Democrat agendas. Paxton, who formerly served in both the House and Senate, comments in the film:
“The most hated people in the whole House were conservative Republicans. We lost our chairmanships. We lost committee assignments. Our bills were pushed to the side. It was hard to believe that in a Republican administration, the conservative Republicans in the House were treated in the worst possible way.”
Mack’s views are further reinforced by Jonathan Stickland, a self-described “recovering politician” who once served in the Texas House. Stickland told Bannon that the Bush dynasty “plays an insider game” because they can’t win at the polls anymore.
“What we’ve seen over the last couple of years is they’ve actually started to throw some of their political power and definitely their money towards the Democrat Party because that’s where they find the easiest allies. So, in the Texas House, you’ve got 115 members of the legislature, so your magic number is 76. When you start off with a group of Democrats in the 60s, then you’re only talking about a dozen turncoat Republicans who want to be on the winning side. And so that’s where the math starts. That’s what conservatives have been fighting against.”
Most importantly, this insider coalition game translates to Democrat policies and lawfare, as seen in the “secret, behind the scenes” Paxton impeachment efforts. Stickland continued:
“The Bush apparatus is in charge. They still control things through money and the establishment institutions, and some of the think tanks. That’s where their power is. But they can’t win an election. They keep going with this open borders policy and this one-size-fits-all approach to public education and all the different establishment things that they’ve been doing. They want open borders. These are the same group of people that gave in State College tuition to illegals that turned on all the magnets that have created the problem down at the border, which everyday Texans are dealing with on a regular basis.
We’re still giving out taxpayer-funded benefits to illegals everywhere. The cost to our county hospitals where you can go and get free healthcare as an illegal—billions of dollars has been flooded, funneled into the system. The funding breeds a situation where people feel like they’re welcome, so they’re coming over here. They’ve got a welcoming committee with Biden’s Border Patrol down there.”
Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Texas GOP, says what is going on in Texas is indicative of a broader problem in America. He adds Montana to the list of political hit jobs because of the newly minted charges (case# PR 23-0496) against the state’s Attorney General Austin Knudsen. Rinaldi sees “Dems and useful idiots in the GOP” willingly weaponize the government against conservatives.
A Democrat special prosecutor appointed by a supposedly nonpartisan but Dem-controlled Supreme Court persecuting a Republican AG … Similar to Texas & indicative of a widespread problem with Dems & useful idiots in the GOP joining to weaponize government against conservatives. pic.twitter.com/OqLJAfcFDQ
— Matt Rinaldi (@MattRinaldiTX) September 6, 2023
Rinaldi says Texas grassroots conservatives want to end the practice of brokering deals by means of a House coalition. It isn’t serving the will of the voter, as evidenced by Paxton’s election. Paxton’s impeachment is an example of the “weaponization of government against political opponents,” says Rinaldi. The Texas Senate ended the practice when Dan Patrick took over,” adds Rinaldi. “This is a remnant” of a tradition that “started when Democrats and Republicans were fighting over tax rates, not whether we are going to arrest political opponents.”
The push to impeach Paxton, says Rinaldi, no doubt started “after the 2020 election when Texas House Democrats called for his impeachment on Jan. 7, 2021. They didn’t like the fact that Paxton was filing lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results. Democrats have tremendous influence over what happens. And one of the things that they demanded was taking down our Republican attorney General. That’s why you can’t find a single Republican talking about it prior to 48 hours before the impeachment vote when it was announced.”
Despite the charges, voters handed Paxton a third term in Nov. 2022 as the state’s highest law enforcement officer. Paxton won with a resounding 10 percent margin against Democrat Rochelle Garza.
In the primary runoff, Paxton easily defeated RINO establishment royalty and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, son of Jeb Bush. Bush led an aggressive but unsuccessful campaign to highlight Paxton’s legal challenges.
In unrelated charges, Paxton has yet to go to trial after being indicted in 2015 for unrelated securities fraud charges. He pleaded not guilty to all charges but could face up to 99 years in prison if convicted. Paxton’s statement on the May impeachment is below:
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) May 25, 2023
In May 2023, Paxton’s office released a report from an outside law firm that found no violations of the law or agency procedure alleged in “long-disproven claims grounded in hearsay and gossip.” The external report comes after an exhaustive, fact-based internal investigation report that also evaluated allegations made by “former political appointees in a criminal complaint against Attorney General Ken Paxton.” Both reports found the Complainants’ allegations “either factually incorrect or legally deficient.” They found “no evidence Nate Paul attempted to bribe Paxton. According to the reports, Paxton’s actions, under his investigation, were “taken well within his official capacity” to do so.