Texas House impeaches Attorney General Ken Paxton

The vote was 121-23 and triggered his suspension ahead of a Senate trial.
FILE – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at a news conference in Dallas on June 22, 2017. After years of legal and ethical scandals swirling around Texas Republican Attorney General Paxton, the state’s GOP-controlled House of Representatives has moved toward an impeachment vote that could quickly throw him from office. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

The Texas House voted Saturday to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) on 20 charges that allege a pattern of misconduct in office.

The 121-23 vote came after a months-long investigation revealed earlier this week that was launched when Paxton agreed to a settlement with four whistleblowers he had fired from his office. It sets up a trial in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is required to convict, remove him from office, and bar him from holding state office again.

Paxton is suspended from his duties until the trial’s conclusion.

Paxton, who was elected to a third term in 2022, has faced legal jeopardy for years. He has been under indictment since 2015 on securities fraud charges related to private business deals that took place in 2011. The FBI opened a separate investigation into Paxton’s actions in 2020.

Paxton called a press conference Friday afternoon at the attorney general’s office to denounce the major step toward removing him from office, referring to the Republican-led House’s move as an “illegal impeachment scheme.”

“The corrupt politicians in the Texas House are demonstrating that blind loyalty to Speaker Dade Phelan (R) is more important than upholding their oath of office,” Paxton said.

During the House committee’s inquiry, investigators found evidence that Paxton may have committed at least three felonies in aiding Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor. In a hearing this week, those investigators told committee members that Paxton had allegedly spent $72,000 in labor costs on work that benefitted Paul, given Paul an FBI file related to an ongoing investigation into his activities, and hired an outside lawyer on Paul’s behalf.

The whistleblowers at the heart of the proposed $3.3 million settlement Paxton agreed to were senior attorneys in Paxton’s office who had all raised concerns about the work on Paul’s behalf before they were fired.

Impeachment has been used to oust only two officials in Texas history — Gov. James “Pa” Ferguson (D), who was ousted in 1917, and a district judge in 1975.