Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been impeached by the GOP-controlled Texas Statehouse in a historic vote.

The vote came after Mr Paxton was accused of threatening colleagues with political blowback if they supported his impeachment.

State Representative Charlie Geren, who like Mr Paxton is a member of the Republican Party, said that “several members of this House while on the floor of this House, doing the state business, received telephone calls from general Paxton personally, threatening them with political consequences in their next election,” according to The Texas Tribune.

Mr Geren made the claim during the opening remarks in the impeachment hearing in the Texas statehouse. The 73-year-old rejected Mr Paxton’s claims that the impeachment is a witch hunt and that the whistleblowers behind a lawsuit against him are “political” appointees.

Mr Geren, who sits on the House General Investigative Committee, repeated what the panel said in the articles of impeachment filed against Mr Paxton, that the committee wouldn’t have probed the issue if he hadn’t made the request that the legislature greenlight a settlement worth $3.3m to the former members of staff.

“We are here today because the attorney general asked the state Legislature to fund a multimillion-dollar settlement,” Mr Geren said. “There was no investigation prior to this time. We wanted to look further into the reasons behind that.”

Mr Geren went on to say that the settlement was Mr Paxton trying to hide the possibility of wrongdoing.

“This settlement served to stave off a trial, including a discovery process that could have brought new info to light,” he said.

Mr Paxton has long been accused of violating the standards of his office, which he has held since 2015, before which he served in the Texas state senate between 2013 and 2015 and before that the Texas Statehouse from 2003 until 2013.

On Saturday, members of the GOP in the Texas House presented their case for impeaching Mr Paxton, arguing that he used his role to benefit himself and a donor to his campaign and that he should be put on trial in the state Senate for a range of violations. It’s the first vote on the impeachment of a statewide officeholder in Texas since 1917, The New York Times noted.

Mr Paxton is the third statewide officeholder in Texas to be impeached in the almost two-centuries-long history of the state, according to the Associated Press.

Former President Donald Trump issued a statement of support for Mr Paxton on Truth Social before the vote, writing that “the RINO Speaker of the House of Texas, Dade Phelan, who is barely a Republican at all and failed the test on voter integrity, wants to impeach one of the most hard working and effective Attorney Generals in the United States, Ken Paxton, who just won re-election with a large number of American Patriots strongly voting for him”.

“You would think that any issue would have been fully adjudicated by the voters of Texas, especially when that vote was so conclusive,” Mr Trump added.

The Republican-controlled bipartisan statehouse committee that advanced the process against Mr Paxton filed 20 articles of impeachment this week, with the panel unanimously finding him unfit to hold office, sending the issue on to the full statehouse.

Republican Representative David Spiller said that Mr Paxton used his office to help the donor, an Austin real estate investor, to his campaign as well as himself.

“Attorney General Paxton continuously and blatantly violated laws and procedures,” Mr Spiller said, according to The New York Times. “Today is a very grim and difficult day for this House and for the State of Texas.”

The impeachment vote only required a simple majority in the House.

Mr Paxton, 60, has rejected all allegations of wrongdoing. He has been a vocal supporter of conservative legal issues and a main combatant of the Biden administration on issues such as the Affordable Care Act and immigration.

He won a third term last year after beating George P Bush, the son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the nephew of former President George W Bush, in a Republican primary in May 2022.

The allegations against him became a part of the campaign, and Mr Paxton accused the Republican House leadership of working with Democrats to remove him from office.

Mr Paxton will now be temporarily removed from office as the issue head to the state Senate for trial, where a number of his main allies, such as his wife, state Senator Angela Paxton, will be jurors.

Governor Greg Abbott is now able to appoint a temporary replacement pending the trial.

Source link