It has been 80 days since the Texas House was instructed to provide their expenses in the impeachment trial against Attorney General Ken Paxton, yet Speaker Dade Phelan has yet to comply.
An audit of both chambers’ expenses was requested after the trial by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
In a letter to state auditor Lisa Collier, Patrick asked for all expenditures incurred by the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas Senate, and the Office of the Attorney General from March 1, 2023, through October 15, 2023. While the Senate and the Office of the Attorney General have provided those numbers, the House has yet to do so.
Phelan’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the status of providing their impeachment costs.
“It appears they may be slow in turning over all their costs for the trial. They had a huge team of lawyers, investigators, assistants, and staff. Unless it was all pro bono, ( free) Texas taxpayers could be on the hook for millions,” said Patrick on Monday night. “For the record, the Senate responded to the auditor over a month ago within the time limit given. We have nothing to hide.”
The House hired prominent Houston attorneys Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin to lead the prosecution, at the cost of $500 an hour to taxpayers, along with a group of other lawyers providing legal assistance. Some lawmakers suggest Phelan and other members of the House leadership team are embarrassed by the cost of their failed effort.
“Texas law as it relates to the Freedom of Information Act states that a response needs to come within 10 business days of the request,” State Rep. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands) told Texas Scorecard. “The lieutenant governor and multiple members (me included) have demanded to know what was spent on this witch hunt. This will turn out to be one of the biggest embarrassments of Dade’s political career. He owes Texas an apology for the grief it has caused.”
Paxton told Texas Scorecard that voters “deserve to know” how much the “sham impeachment” cost the state.
“It’s been 80 days since Dade Phelan has refused to release those figures,” said Paxton. “Dade Phelan has embarrassed himself, his Republican colleagues, and the state of Texas. It’s time for him to release the figures and resign.”
Lt. Gov. Patrick said that he is not going to let the matter go away because Texans deserve an accounting of the costs.
“If the House doesn’t turn over all records relating to the total cost of the trial for them by December 31, 2023, I will take it to the next level,” said Patrick. “I can assure our taxpayers I will get to the bottom of this.”