Timeline of events leading to the impeachment of Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A timeline of events that have led to three-term Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, 60, being impeached Saturday. The vote by the GOP-controlled Texas House of Representatives also means Paxton is immediately suspended from office.
Paxton takes office as attorney general after more than a decade in the Texas Legislature. He is indicted on felony securities charges by a grand jury in his hometown near Dallas, accused of duping investors in a tech startup. He pleads not guilty to two felony counts, but there has still been no trial. Paxton opens a legal defense fund and accepts $100,000 from an executive whose company was under investigation by his office for Medicaid fraud. An Arizona retiree donates $50,000 to the fund, and Paxton later hires the donor’s son for a high-ranking job that ends with his firing after the man showed child pornography in a meeting.
Several of Paxton’s top aides tell the FBI about concerns that the attorney general was misusing the powers of his office to help wealthy donor and Austin real estate developer Nate Paul with a troubled real estate empire. The FBI opens an investigation and searches Paul’s home, but he has not been charged. Paxton and his attorneys have denied wrongdoing. Paxton, who is married to a state senator and has gained a national profile as a crusader for conservative Christian legal causes, tells staff members that he had an affair with a woman who, it later emerged, worked for Paul. In a deposition, Paul says he hired the woman at Paxton’s recommendation. The eight aides who reported Paxton to the FBI are fired or quit, and four later sue under Texas’ whistleblower law.
Paxton agrees to settle the whistleblower lawsuit for $3.3 million of taxpayers’ money, which requires legislative approval. Justice Department officials in Washington take over the corruption investigation, removing the case from federal prosecutors in Texas.
MAY 23, 2023
Members of a Republican-led House Committee on General Investigating reveal a corruption investigation into Paxton has been going on quietly for months.
MAY 24, 2023
The committee’s investigation accuses Paxton of committing multiple crimes in office — including felonies. The accusations cover myriad accusations related to his dealings with Paul, including alleged attempts to interfere in foreclosure lawsuits and improperly issuing legal opinions to benefit Paul, and firing, harassing and interfering with staff who reported what was going on. The bribery charges stem from Paul allegedly employing the woman with whom Paxton had an affair in exchange for legal help, and Paul allegedly paying for expensive renovations to Paxton’s home. Paxton broadly denies any wrongdoing. The committee ended Wednesday’s hearing without acting on the findings and without saying whether a recommendation to impeach or censure Paxton was possible.
MAY 25, 2023
The committee recommends in a unanimous vote that the state’s top lawyer be impeached on 20 articles including bribery, unfitness for office and abuse of public trust.
MAY 26, 2023
The House committee said it was Paxton’s own request for state funds to settle the whistleblower lawsuit that brought about the impeachment recommendation. The $3.3 million payout must be approved by the House and Republican Speaker Dade Phelan has said he doesn’t think taxpayers should foot the bill. Paxton calls on his supporters to protest when the full House of Representatives takes up impeachment proceedings against him. He decried the impeachment proceedings as “political theater” that will “inflict lasting damage on the Texas House,” adding to his earlier claims that it’s an effort to disenfranchise the voters who returned him to office in November.
MAY 27, 2023
The 149-member Texas House of Representatives votes to impeach Paxton. In Texas, an impeached official is automatically suspended from office pending a trial in the Senate.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.