The Republican-controlled Texas House has voted to impeach Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and sent 20 articles of impeachment to the state Senate.
It makes Paxton only the third sitting official in Texas’s nearly 200-year history to have been impeached.
"BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the State of Texas, That Warren Kenneth Paxton Jr., Attorney General of the State of Texas, is impeached and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the Texas Senate," read Texas House Resolution No. 2377.
Paxton denounced the impeachment as "never meant to be fair or just" and was "politically motivated."
"I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate, where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just," he said in a statement.
The 121–23 vote triggers Paxton’s immediate suspension from office pending the outcome of a trial in the state Senate and empowers Gov. Greg Abbott to appoint someone else as Texas’s top lawyer in the interim.
Paxton is one of the GOP’s most prominent legal combatants, who in 2020 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in a significant election integrity case related to the presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
Trump denounced the impeachment attempt right before the Texas vote.
The 20 Articles of ImpeachmentThe 20 articles of impeachment include allegations of bribery and abuse of public trust.
The Texas House alleged that Paxton improperly issued legal opinions to benefit real estate developer Nate Paul, and fired whistleblower staffers.
Bribery charges stem from Paul allegedly employing a woman with whom Paxton had an affair in exchange for legal help and Paul allegedly paying for renovations to Paxton’s home. Other charges date back to Paxton’s pending 2015 felony securities fraud case, including lying to state investigators.
In March, Paxton asked a House Appropriations subcommittee to fund the multimillion-dollar whistleblower settlement. At about the same time, the House Committee began its investigation into the allegations surrounding the case.
In October 2020, eight top deputies in Paxton’s agency told the FBI that they believed the attorney general had used his office to help Paul, who had donated $25,000 to Paxton’s reelection campaign in 2018.
All of the whistleblowers were fired or resigned, but the allegations led to a federal investigation into Paxton.
In February, the Department of Justice took over the investigation, but no federal charges have been filed against Paxton or Paul.
Paul had come under federal investigation in 2019 in relation to a legal conflict between his businesses and a charitable organization. The real estate developer was “entangled in lawsuits and facing as many as 13 foreclosures by 2020,” according to the House Committee hearing transcript.
Paxton has said the charges are based on “hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims.”