© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas Matters: Inside Attorney General Ken Paxton's pending impeachment

Ways To Subscribe
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

On Thursday night a special investigative committee of the Texas Legislature took a historic vote.

The unanimous committee decision was to file charges of impeachment against Attorney General Paxton including 20 articles that catalog a pattern of alleged misconduct, lawbreaking and abuse of office that goes back years.

Texas has never impeached an attorney general before. And the last time there was a statewide elected office holder impeached, it was Governor Jim Ferguson in 1917.

Paxton is denying all the charges against him. He says the attempt to impeach him is unconstitutional and illegal. Paxton insists that there are simple explanations for all the allegations against him and he hasn’t been given a chance to explain.

Paxton has taken to Twitter to attack Speaker Dade Phelan, claiming he has failed to pass conservative priorities in the House while also allowing Chinese spying to control Texas land.

Paxton’s chief of litigation, Chris Hilton, says this impeachment is illegal because Texas voters elected Paxton last November, and these alleged crimes happened before that election. So the voters have spoken, and their will is supreme.

On Friday morning, Hilton spoke on Dallas conservative talk radio with Mark Davis and presented more of a defense.

“This whole process in the house has really been a sham. It came out of nowhere on Tuesday, and at no point during their investigation that they've apparently been doing for months, did they ever bother to reach out to the Attorney General's office. And so, when they called this hearing on 10-minutes notice yesterday, we wanted to get down there and give them the information that they didn't have,” Hilton said.

“The report that they heard from their investigators was just hearsay upon hearsay upon hearsay. No court in the world would consider any of the evidence that those investigators gave to the house committee. And so we showed up and I had information for them. I was ready to answer their questions. They didn't want to hear it. They wouldn't let me register to testify. They kicked me out of the committee room, and less than an hour later, they recommended the articles of impeachment anyway,” he said.

It does sound like that Paxton is fighting back. There could be some unexpected twists before the expected impeachment vote on the floor of the House on Saturday.

To understand the charges against Paxton—the politics, the history and what could happen next—I spoke with Harvey Kronberg, the founder of The Quorum Report.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi