The Texas House could see its first impeachment proceedings in nearly 50 years, as the House Committee on General Investigating unanimously voted to refer articles of impeachment against Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The move comes one day after a hearing in which the committee heard testimony from a group of four investigators secretly appointed by the committee back in March. The investigators largely rehashed the ongoing indictment of Paxton on securities fraud charges that has been likened to a “political prosecution” for eight years and have been the focus of multiple campaigns.
The main focus of the investigator’s report, however, was a settlement reached with four former employees of the Office of the Attorney General who say they were fired unfairly.
In October 2020, eight of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s top aides accused him of bribery and abuse of office. After being terminated from employment, four of the employees filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Paxton, where they alleged that Paxton did political favors for Nate Paul, a real estate developer and donor, by having his office intervene in his legal disputes.
Earlier this year, Paxton appeared ready to settle with the employees.
As part of the terms of the settlement, Paxton would be required to release a statement saying he “accepts that plaintiffs acted in a manner that they thought was right and apologizes for referring to them as ‘rogue employees.’”
A $3.3 million cash portion of the settlement—largely compensation for lost wages over the last 27 months—required approval by the Legislature.
That approval, however, was not granted.
When the committee met on Thursday, they quickly moved into executive session away from the public. Chris Hilton, the chief of general litigation for the Office of the Attorney General, demanded to testify on behalf of Paxton but was denied the opportunity to do so.
Hilton called the committee’s work an “illegal investigation.”
“The voters have spoken. They want Ken Paxton as their attorney general,” said Hilton.
Paxton fended off multiple Republican primary challengers and a runoff election just last year.
Following the impeachment referral, Paxton called out Dade Phelan for his liberal agenda:
Texas faces a critical moment for the rule of law and the will of Texas voters. Only months ago, Texans went to the polls and made a choice. They made their choice during a primary where over 1.5 million Texans cast their vote. They made that choice again when over 1.5 million people voted in the general election. Just yesterday, four liberal lawyers put forward a report to the House General Investigating Committee based on hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims. Today, that Committee has asked the Texas House of Representatives to use their unsubstantiated report to overturn the results of a free and fair election. This process provided no opportunity for rebuttal or due process. They even refused to allow a senior attorney from my office to provide the facts. They rejected every attempt to seek a full accounting of the truth. By attacking the Office of the Attorney General, corrupted politicians in the Texas House, led by liberal Speaker Dade Phelan, are actively destroying Texas’s position as the most powerful backstop against the Biden agenda in the entire country. The RINOs in the Texas Legislature are now on the same side as Joe Biden, Alejandro Mayorkas, and Chuck Schumer, collaborating to tie our hands and render Texas less powerful and effective in the fight for the nation’s future. They want nothing more than to sabotage our legal challenges to Biden’s extremist agenda by taking me out as the state’s Attorney General.
“There is a reason CNN called Texas ‘a legal graveyard for Biden policies.’ I am doing exactly what voters elected me to do. It is a sad day for Texas as we witness the corrupt political establishment unite in this illegitimate attempt to overthrow the will of the people and disenfranchise the voters of our state,” he added.
Notably, the impeachment referral comes just days after Paxton called for the resignation of House Speaker Dade Phelan for allegedly running the House while under the influence of alcohol.
Impeachment requires a majority vote in the House of Representatives. While they are slated to end the regular session on Monday, they can call themselves back for the impeachment proceedings. Should the House impeach Paxton, the issue would be sent to the Senate for a trial where he would be required to be convicted by two-thirds of the senators in order to be removed from office.