AUSTIN — The Texas House General Investigating Committee released its articles for impeachment to the chamber Thursday evening. It included 20 accusations of wrongdoing against state Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The committee voted unanimously Thursday afternoon that Paxton, a Republican, be impeached.
Paxton has said “every allegation is easily disproved,” adding that the House inquiry did not offer him or his staff an opportunity for rebuttal or due process and is intentionally trying to overturn his election, which he won twice despite years of accusations of wrongdoing.
“(The House) committee has asked The Texas House of Representatives to use their unsubstantiated report to cover the results of a free and fair election,” Paxton said in a statement Thursday. “Four liberal lawyers put forward a report to the House General Investigating Committee based on hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproved claims.”
The articles of impeachment follow a House inquiry stemming from a whistleblower lawsuit. In February, Paxton settled with four former top-ranking employees who sued him for retaliation. The employees claim that after turning Paxton in to the federal authorities for misconduct, they were fired.
The lawsuit was settled for $3.3 million, obligating Texas taxpayers — not Paxton — to pay the bill. The House initiated the inquiry in March with the findings released on Wednesday. The Texas Legislature has also made moves to prevent state dollars from paying for the settlement.
Now, the GOP-led House will determine the next steps. Should a simple majority in the House vote to impeach Paxton, he will be immediately suspended from office until the Senate holds a trial, where two-thirds, or 21 members, would need to vote for his impeachment.
Paxton’s wife, Angela Paxton, of McKinney, is a state senator.
Here are the 20 accusations, per the report.
- Disregard of Official Duty — Protection of Charitable Organization: Paxton caused employees of his office to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the Roy F. & JoAnn Cole Mitte Foundation against several corporate entities controlled by Nate Paul, a friend and campaign donor. Paxton harmed the Mitte Foundation in an effort to benefit Paul.
- Disregard of Official Duty — Abuse of the Opinion Process: Paxton caused employees of his office to prepare a legal opinion in an attempt to avoid the impending foreclosure sales of properties belonging to Paul and to business entities controlled by Paul. He then concealed his actions by soliciting the chair of a senate committee to serve as a straw requestor.
- Disregard of Official Duty — Abuse of the Open Records Process: Paxton directed employees of his office to act contrary to law by refusing to render a proper decision relating to a public information request for records held by the Department of Public Safety and by issuing a decision involving another public information request that was contrary to law.
- Disregard of Official Duty — Misuse of Official Information: Paxton improperly obtained access to information held by his office that had not been publicly disclosed for the purpose of benefiting Paul.
- Disregard of Official Duty — Engagement of Cammack: Paxton engaged Brandon Cammack, a licensed attorney, to conduct an investigation into a baseless complaint, during which Cammack issued more than 30 grand jury subpoenas, in an effort to benefit Paul and his businesses.
- Disregard of Official Duty — Termination of Whistleblowers: Paxton terminated employees of his office who made good faith reports of his unlawful action to law enforcement authorities.
- Misapplication of Public Resources — Whistleblower Investigation and Report: Paxton directed employees of his office to conduct a sham investigation into whistleblower complaints made by employees whom Paxton had terminated and to create and publish a lengthy written report containing false or misleading statements in Paxton’s defense.
- Disregard of Official Duty — Settlement Agreement: Paxton entered into a settlement agreement with the whistleblowers that provides for payment of the settlement from public funds. The settlement stayed the wrongful termination suit and conspicuously delayed the discovery of facts and testimony at trial, to Paxton’s advantage.
- Constitutional Bribery — Paul’s Employment of Mistress: Paxton benefited from Paul’s employment of a woman with whom Paxton was having an extramarital affair. In return, Paul received favorable legal assistance from the Office of the Attorney General.
- Constitutional Bribery — Paul Providing Renovations to Paxton Home: Paxton benefited from Paul providing renovations to his home. In return, Paul received favorable legal assistance from the Office of the Attorney General.
- Obstruction of Justice — Abuse of Judicial Process: After being elected in 2014, Paxton was indicted by a Collin County grand jury for securities fraud. Paxton concealed the facts underlying his criminal charges from voters by causing a delay of the trial.
- Obstruction of Justice — Abuse of Judicial Process: Paxton benefitted from the filing of a lawsuit by Jeff Blackard, a campaign donor, that interfered with or disrupted payment of the prosecutors in the securities fraud case. This caused a delay in the case, including a delay of discovery of facts and testimony at trial.
- False Statement in Official Records — State Securities Board Investigation: Paxton made false statements to the board.
- False Statements in Official Records — Personal Financial Statements: Paxton failed to fully and accurately disclose his financial interests with the Texas Ethics Commission as required by law.
- False Statements in Official Records — Whistleblower Response Report: Paxton made or caused to be made multiple false or misleading statements in the lengthy written report issued by his office in response to whistleblower allegations.
- Conspiracy and Attempted Conspiracy: Paxton acted with others to conspire, or attempt to conspire to commit acts described in one or more articles.
- Misappropriation of Public Resource: Paxton, in his official powers, caused employees of his office to perform services for his benefit and the benefit of others.
- Dereliction of Duty: While in office, Paxton acted contrary to the public interest.
- Unfitness for Office: Paxton engaged in misconduct, private or public, that indicated his unfitness for office.
- Abuse of Public Trust: Paxton used, misused or failed to use his official powers in a manner calculated to subvert the lawful operation of Texas and obstruct the fair and impartial administration of justice.
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