After Comptroller Glenn Hegar suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton’s salary this summer following the House’s vote to impeach him in May, Paxton is demanding backpay.
“I am aware that staff at the Office of the Comptroller of Public Accounts (“CPA”) has withheld salary payments from Attorney General Ken Paxton during pendency of impeachment proceedings and that the CPA has further refused to provide back payments to Attorney General Paxton notwithstanding his full acquittal of all impeachment charges,” First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster wrote in a letter to Hegar on Monday.
“I write today to unequivocally inform you that the Office of the Attorney General’s position is that the CPA is in violation of not only state law, but also the Texas Constitution, by refusing to issue salary payments to a duly elected statewide officeholder and advise you that this agency will consider all legal avenues to redress this issue.”
Webster cites the Texas Constitution, which states that the Attorney General “shall receive an annual salary.”
“The constitution could have—but does not—provide that a public official is denied a salary during the pendency of impeachment proceedings. Nor did the Legislature even attempt to call for the suspension of Attorney General Paxton’s salary in the articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives or any other official document relating to impeachment proceedings, most likely because they knew there is no legal authority to not pay elected state officials prior to removal,” wrote Webster.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has gone a step further, and called for a change in the constitution to prevent the suspension of impeached officeholders from their work and pay prior to conviction in the senate.
“When the House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate, the official in question should not be put on unpaid leave through the process,” Patrick said following the trial. “The federal system does not allow that. President Clinton and President Trump did not have to step down from their duties during their impeachment process. This is not a partisan issue.”
As of publishing, Hegar’s office has not returned comment.