Texas Attorney General Paxton has been found not guilty by a jury of his colleagues on charges of corruption.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican serving his third term, was found not guilty by the state Senate on Saturday after a two-week trial. The trial focused on corruption accusations related to one of Paxton’s affluent acquaintances and an extramarital relationship.
At the conclusion of the trial, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) formally reinstated Paxton as the state’s chief law enforcement officer.
He had been suspended since May when Texas’ Republican-dominated House voted overwhelmingly to impeach Paxton by a vote of 121-23.
Patrick stated that a significant amount of taxpayer money has been squandered on the impeachment process. He further mentioned his intention to request a thorough examination of all expenses related to the impeachment proceedings conducted by the legislature.
Paxton could rely on having additional supporters in the state Senate, which is controlled by Republicans. His wife, Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton (R), represents a suburban district near Dallas and was obligated to be present throughout the trial. However, she was not allowed to participate in discussions or cast votes.
Her recusal made the bar to convict her husband slightly higher, with 21 senators required to oust him instead of 20.
If any of the 16 articles of impeachment led to a conviction, the attorney general would be removed from office permanently. In order to secure a conviction, at least nine Republicans would need to be convinced to vote alongside all of the Democrats, given that there are 12 Democrats and 19 Republicans in the state Senate.
It was a challenging task. None of the articles garnered over 14 “yea” votes.
Ken Paxton has consistently avoided accusations of corruption and misconduct in the realm of Texas politics.
He still hasn’t faced trial for securities fraud charges, which were brought against him in 2015. In the recent past, he evaded a federal subpoena by quickly leaving his house and getting into a truck driven by his wife. What’s even more peculiar is that about ten years ago, he was caught on security cameras taking a $1,000 Montblanc pen that another lawyer accidentally left behind at the courthouse security checkpoint.
The focus of the impeachment trial was on his connection with Nate Paul, a real estate developer from Texas. Paxton was alleged to have assisted Paul by misusing his public position.
Following the 2019 FBI raid on Paul’s office, he has been attempting to persuade Paxton to initiate an investigation into the individuals conducting the raid, claiming a significant plot against him. Paxton aided Paul in obtaining subpoenas against the targeted judges, federal agents, and bank executives by employing external legal representation funded by Texas taxpayers.
According to the Texas Tribune, Brandon Cammack, a young lawyer serving as outside counsel, stated in his testimony that he felt deceived and betrayed by Paxton, comparing it to having the rug pulled out from under him.
In 2020, a number of Paxton’s staff members were terminated after they informed the FBI about their worries regarding their boss’ connection with Paul. Paul had contributed $25,000 to Paxton’s second campaign and was believed to be financing Paxton’s home renovations.
The individuals who exposed the wrongdoing came to an agreement to settle for $3.3 million, but no payment has been made yet due to a dispute regarding the allocation of public money.
Paxton’s involvement with Laura Olson, a woman employed by Paul, further complicated the situation. Paxton was accused of bribery in the state Senate due to their relationship. Patrick, who presided over the trial, stated that both parties agreed that Olson would not provide testimony.
Former employees gave testimony stating that Paxton’s extramarital relationship caused tension within the workplace.
Tony Buzbee, an attorney representing Paxton, defended his client by suggesting that if every person in Austin who had an affair was impeached, the process would continue for a century.
The impeachment managers from the Texas state House contacted approximately 20 witnesses, primarily former aides, to provide testimony at the attorney general’s office. State Representative Andrew Murr (R) expressed in the Senate chamber that Paxton has “betrayed both us and the citizens of Texas.”
Buzbee utilized his concluding remarks to assert that the impeachment was equivalent to a “political witch hunt” orchestrated by individuals who hold a dislike towards Ken Paxton.
Buzbee stated that this trial has showcased a divisive conflict within the Republican Party, which is being publicly observed by the entire country. He described it as a struggle for control.
During the closing statements of the impeachment managers, state Rep. Jeff Leach (R), who was previously a friend of Paxton, directly addressed Buzbee’s allegation.
“I cannot reword”
Despite his previous endorsement, Leach stated that Paxton’s actions crossed a line, and he felt obligated to do what was morally correct.
Leach stated that he thinks it is appropriate, despite the discomfort it may cause both us and you, to vote in favor of supporting the articles of impeachment recommended by the Texas House of Representatives.
Paxton said on social media that he planned to travel to Maine next week to discuss the trial on former Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s web series.
“He expressed anticipation for an intriguing experience!”
Paul was charged by federal prosecutors in June for providing false information to banks in order to obtain loans. He entered a plea of not guilty.