Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says House Speaker Dade Phelan is violating state law by withholding expenses to the state auditor in a review of the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton.
An audit of both chambers’ expenses was requested after the trial by Patrick.
So far, according to Patrick, the House has refused to provide those numbers.
“When the Texas House requests the State Auditor to audit a state agency, the Speaker expects that agency to respond to the State Auditor before or at the deadline. However, the Speaker apparently believes the rules don’t apply to him and the House when THEY are audited,” Patrick wrote in a social media post. “They ignored the submission deadline and, so far, have stiffed the State Auditor by withholding their impeachment spending totals. This is outrageous behavior. It is a crime punishable up to a year in jail under Texas Government Code Sec. 321.019 to not allow access to documents requested by the State Auditor pursuant to an audit.”
Indeed, the government code lists this kind of interference with audits as a class A misdemeanor.
Last week, open records requests revealed a cost of at least $4.3 million in the impeachment, including money given to a public relations firm before and after the trial.
Patrick says he believes the actual total is “much more.”
“What is Dade Phelan and the House attempting to hide? The House needs to respond to the State Auditor now with a full report of all of their spending. Dade Phelan – show us where the money went,” Patrick added.
A spokesperson for Phelan said, “The state auditor does not work for Dan Patrick and Dan Patrick cannot unilaterally order a redundant state audit at taxpayers’ expense. It is highly inappropriate for a singular government official to use the State Auditor’s Office for his own political agenda and order independent agencies to do as he pleases, completely disregarding the appropriate and legal processes. Unlike the Senate trial, the House is transparent and accountable to the people of Texas.”