House impeaches AG Paxton
By Abigail Allen
Texas Attorney General Warren Kenneth "Ken" Paxton Jr. has been impeached by the Texas House of Representatives in a vote of 121-23.
Among those yes votes was Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, who cited his conservative values as the reason he voted in favor of the impeachment.
"Despite the public knowing some things that Ken Paxton's been accused of, I certainly didn't know the level of detail and the depth of the accusations or the potential wrongdoing until the Texas House General Investigating Committee came out with their findings," Patterson said. "I was just blown away. I was disappointed as a supporter of Gen. Paxton."
He referenced the 147-0 vote on House Resolution 1542 to expel state Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royce City, on May 9 as another example of his fellow representatives and him responding to allegations of misconduct no matter the political affiliation.
"We can't stand by while these types of things are happening," Patterson said.
Several of Paxton's senior aides contacted the FBI regarding concerns that he "was misusing his office to help multi-millionaire real estate developer and donor, Nate Paul," according to the release from Patterson's office.
"Subsequently, these aides were fired," the release said. "After a Texas appeals court ruled against Paxton, he agreed to pay $3.3 million in a settlement to his former senior aides for their wrongful termination. His request to use taxpayer funds for this settlement sparked the investigation into his actions as Attorney General, uncovering a litany of abuses."
House Resolution 2377 lays out the 20 articles of impeachment, which are similar to indictments in the legal system. Those include misconduct regarding the opinion process, the open records process, the termination of whistleblowers, bribery, obstruction of justice and false statements.
To read the entire resolution, go to bit.ly/Paxton-HR2377.
The next step is for the Texas Senate to hold a trial, which will begin by Aug. 28, which is being managed by 12 representatives, seven Republicans and five Democrats, according to the Texas Tribune.
Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, will serve as chair and Rep. Ann Johnson, D-Houston, as vice chair.
During a press conference Monday with Murr and the other House Board of Managers, he spoke about the process and his faith in the Senate.
"We will manage this process with the weight and reverence that it deserves and requires," he said. "This is about facts and the evidence. It is not about politics."
For that video, visit house.texas.gov/video-audio/press-conference.
On Tuesday, Patterson drew attention to Paxton and his supporters' response to the concerns.
"No one is debating [the articles]," Patterson said. "Not a single member that voted against it. Not Ken Paxton. Not anyone that I've seen publicly state that he's innocent of the charges."
He further explained that the articles are not a declaration of guilt by the House.
"Our job is just to say if there's smoke here, then we need to send it over to the Senate to see if there's fire," Patterson said.