If we didn’t have enough high-stakes drama on our plates we might be all over this. But I wanted to make sure it was on your radar. It started yesterday when notorious reprobate Texas AG Ken Paxton put out a statement calling on the Texas Speaker of the House to resign over a video clip from the House floor which appeared to many to show him drunk. (His speech was at least slurred at one point. Here’s a breakdown of the video.)
As many of you know Paxton is both hard right and ludicrous and has seemingly for years been under investigation, indictment, sued by various people including his staff … and yet somehow still manages to remain permanently in office.
That was where things stood as of yesterday when I first heard about this.
But now it turns out that Paxton has been under investigation by the state House since March and his accusation about Phelan seemed to come right as the probe is kicking into high gear, with a vote yesterday (revealed after his call for Phelan to resign) to issue a subpoena to Paxton’s office and an order to preserve records. To be clear, this would be an investigation not directly conducted by Phelan but under his general authority as speaker.
“The motives for and timing behind Paxton’s statement today couldn’t be more evident,” Phelan’s press rep said in a statement. “Mr. Paxton’s statement today amounts to little more than a last ditch effort to save face.”
The investigation seems to focus primarily on the whistleblower claims on the part of Paxton’s own staff accusing him of various acts of corruption, though it appears to include a lot else as well. According to this report the investigation started after word got out that Paxton would use $3.3 million in state funds to settle the whistleblower complaint. The investigators ultimately found wrongdoing to support “at least a dozen criminal charges” and likely impeachable offenses.
This was all revealed just this morning. So, moving fast.
Many of these crimes appear to be ones we and others have covered over the years. So it’s not clear to me the extent the committee is just compiling a Paxton greatest-hits list or has found new evidence pertaining to one or more of the scandals. In any case, it seems like there’s plenty of fun to go around and each side has now escalated the matter to an extent that there’s no backing down.
It’s worth noting that Paxton is a hardcore Trump man while Phelan is at least in the see-no-evil/hear-no-evil mode if not an outright Trump skeptic. So there’s that general political division between the two. Paxton’s mix of corruption and extremism is essentially unparalleled. On Phelan, it seems there are some reasons to think the drunkenness allegations are at least questionable, though he certainly did seem to slur his speech in the one clip in question. In any case, the more the merrier with this one.