Months after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) asked the Texas House to get him out of a lawsuit by appropriating funding for a legal settlement, it may be about to remove him instead.
The Texas House’s General Investigating Committee on Thursday voted 5-0 to recommend impeaching Paxton over what are really the latest series of allegations of criminal wrongdoing against the state attorney general.
Paxton has been under state-level indictment since 2015 for securities fraud, but by this point that’s water under the bridge. What set the House off is more recent, and goes to allegations from within Paxton’s office.
Four fired aides filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Paxton last year, claiming that he retaliated against them amid what appeared to be a crime spree undertaken from within the office of the Texas Attorney General. Among other things, the former employees accused Paxton of an unsavorily close relationship with troubled Austin real estate magnate and Paxton political contributor Nate Paul.
In February, Paxton and the former aides agreed to a $3.3 million settlement, which would prevent the case from going to trial and revealing even more potentially embarrassing details. Under Texas law, the state House would need to appropriate $3.3 million for the settlement.
Instead, the state House’s Investigating Committee opened a probe in March. On Wednesday, investigators testified that they had substantiated the allegations made in the lawsuit, saying that Paxton had used his role in law enforcement to investigate FBI officials probing Paul, and that the Austin real estate investor renovated Paxton’s home and provided employment for his mistress in return.
Paxton lashed out on Tuesday and Wednesday, accusing House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) of being “intoxicated” at a public hearing and, even worse, of being a “liberal.”
Only two officials in Texas history have been impeached and removed, most recently in the 1970s. The state House requires a two-thirds majority vote for removal.