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Is The Texas GOP Finally Going To Take Out The Ken Paxton Trash?
Well done, Texas! You got there ... eventually.
Last week, after eight years of placidly inhaling the reek, Republican politicians in Texas made a decision to notice the rancid pile of dogshit on their doorstep. On May 25 the Texas House voted 121-23 in favor of articles of impeachment , referring the case for trial in the Senate later this summer.
Paxton's corruption has been public forever — his first indictment for securities fraud came in 2015, six months into his first term as attorney general. He's managed to postpone that reckoning through a variety of procedural wheezes, including having a friend file a lawsuit to block funds to pay the prosecutors. And the bribery allegations involving developer Nate Paul, which form the bulk of the impeachment charges, have been widely reported for at least three years. Republicans in the legislature were free to investigate them at any time, and they chose not to.
Proximately, the House General Investigating Committee was "forced" to acknowledge the stench by a whistleblower lawsuit from Paxton's former deputies, whom he fired when they pointed out that he was abusing his office to benefit Paul. As alleged, Paxton gave Paul details of a pending federal investigation into him, used state funds to hire outside counsel to attack the FBI after it raided Paul's office, and had his office intervene in both foreclosure actions and a charity's fraud suit against the developer. In exchange, Paul renovated Paxton's house and gave Paxton's girlfriend a job in Austin, so Paxton wouldn't have to drive all the way to San Antonio for some strange.
When his employees called him out, Paxton's lackeys dummied up a report sliming the whistleblowers, four of whom later sued in state court. Paxton's office then negotiated a $3.3 million settlement to keep the matter out of court, claiming, of course, that he was simply trying to spare the taxpayers the expense of a trial. But he needed the legislature sign off on disbursing the funds, which is how this mess wound up in House Speaker Dade Phelan's lap.
Phelan probably could have dodged, repeating Paxton's excuse. But in the event, he didn't. Instead he allowed the Committee to launch a secret investigation, which confirmed every bit of the public reporting about Paxton. Then he shepherded through a vote on the 20 articles, which included not only the allegations about Paul in the settlement, but multiple false statements and obstruction charges related to the securities fraud case. Clearly Republicans in the House want Paxton gone, and they're throwing everything they've got at him. The Texas Tribune suggests that this is a proxy fight between the "normie" Republicans, who are merely terrible in all the usual ways, and the cult of personality loons like Paxton.
Paxton came out swinging, accusing "liberal Speaker Dade Phelan" of teaming up with "highly partisan Democrat lawyers" to "disenfranchise Texas voters and sabotage" Paxton. Here on Planet Earth, Phelan just passed legislation outlawing puberty blockers for trans kids and banning DEI at Texas public universities. And the whistleblowers are guys Paxton himself hired.
Naturally, the cult-iest of ideologues is unbothered by these minor details.
I love Texas, won it twice in landslides, and watched as many other friends, including Ken Paxton, came along with me. Hopefully Republicans in the Texas House will agree that this is a very unfair process that should not be allowed to happen or proceed—I will fight you if it does. It is the Radical Left Democrats, RINOS, and Criminals that never stop. ELECTION INTERFERENCE! Free Ken Paxton, let them wait for the next election!
Blah blah blah . Orange Man gonna "fight you." Okay.
On Monday, the Texas Senate unanimously passed a resolution naming a seven-member committee to develop rules for the trial, which shall be convened by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, in his role as president of the Senate, on or before August 28. It's not clear yet whether Senator Angela Paxton, Ken's wife, will recuse herself, and the issue might become germane since a conviction requires support from two-thirds of the 30-member body.
In the meantime, impeachment in the House triggered the immediate removal of Paxton from his official duties. Over the weekend, his deputy Brent Webster took charge of the AG's office. Webster is a staunch Paxton loyalist, whom the Texas attorney grievance body tried unsuccessfully to sanction along with Paxton for his role in the Supreme Court clownsuit seeking to toss out all the swing state ballots in 2020. Webster immediately had the office prepare a memo in Paxton’s defense and deliver it to all the senators. In addition to this, several members of the AG's office took leaves of absence to represent Paxton in the impeachment trial.
But yesterday Governor Greg Abbott exercised his prerogative and installed former Secretary of State John Scott as interim AG. Scott headed up the civil division under Abbott, who preceded Paxton as AG. Scott, who was working as a lobbyist until about five minutes ago, led the state's audit of the 2020 election, which fueled election denial generally, while simultaneously backing the integrity of Texas's voting systems, according to Votebeat . He also briefly represented Trump in a Pennsylvania election challenge, withdrawing from the case after just three days. In short, he's the normal amount evil for a Republican, and probably not down for whatever corrupt fuckery Webster was cooking up.
Perhaps it's a sign that the political winds have shifted in Texas and Republicans would like to defenestrate Paxton with as little drama as possible. If so, Paxton hasn't gotten the memo, because he's still swinging wildly and looking to assemble his posse to fend off the Senate.
Gonna be ugly.
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