Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been impeached by the Texas House of Representatives over allegations of corruption and threats. The charges against him included taking bribes from a real estate investor, trying to protect that same investor from legal action, abusing the powers of the office, and firing staff members who reported his misconduct. Paxton had faced few political consequences for years for his many public scandals, but after his office asked lawmakers to use taxpayer dollars to pay a $3.3 million settlement to whistleblowing staffers, the scandals proved too much for him to shake off. The impeachment charges centered on Paxton’s entanglement with Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor.
Quoting The Texas Tribune, on Saturday, the Texas House voted to impeach the state’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Ken Paxton. The impeachment charges were based on Paxton’s involvement with Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor, and allegations of misconduct, bribery, and abuse of power.
The House Committee on General Investigating had investigated Paxton’s alleged misconduct, including taking bribes from Paul, protecting him from legal action, and firing staff members who reported his misconduct. Paxton had faced few political consequences for his scandals until his office requested lawmakers to use taxpayer dollars to pay a $3.3 million settlement to the whistleblowing staffers.
During the impeachment proceedings, details of Paxton’s alleged misconduct were aired, including a nefarious kitchen remodel and an extramarital affair. Members of the House committee believed that Paxton broke the law by using his office to serve the interests of Paul, who was fined over $180,000 and ordered to serve jail time by a state judge after being found in contempt of court earlier this year.
State Rep. David Spiller, R-Jacksboro, a member of the House Committee on General Investigating, told his colleagues on Saturday that “no one person should be above the law – least not the top law enforcement officer of the state of Texas.” He added, “we should not ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen. Texas is better than that.”
State Rep. Ann Johnson, a Houston Democrat and vice-chair of the investigating committee, told the chamber that “all roads lead to Nate Paul” before outlining Paxton’s yearslong relationship with his friend.
The impeachment of Paxton is a historic moment in Texas politics, as the state has only impeached two other elected officials in its history. The next step is for the Texas Senate to hold a trial, where a two-thirds majority vote is required to remove Paxton from office.
The allegations against Paxton and his subsequent impeachment highlight the importance of holding elected officials accountable for their actions. No one should be above the law, especially those tasked with upholding it. The Texas House’s vote to impeach Paxton sends a strong message that corruption and abuse of power will not be tolerated in Texas politics.