Of the 31 individuals serving in the Texas Senate, the hottest seat in the place happens to be the one occupied by the spouse of a man about to stand trial for an array of alleged criminal acts.
Sen. Angela Paxton, a McKinney Republican, is married to Attorney General Ken Paxton, whom the House impeached Saturday in a stunningly overwhelming vote of 121-25.
AG Paxton has been accused of bribery, securities fraud, doing political favors for friends, malfeasance, obstruction of justice … and even a charge related to an alleged extramarital affair!
Angela Paxton ought to recuse herself from any vote she would be asked to cast on determining whether her husband stays in office.
My reasoning is a bit complicated, but I’ll try to explain.
Two-thirds of Texas senators need to vote to convict the AG. Republicans occupy 19 seats; Democrats sit in 12 of them. Paxton’s recusal gives the GOP an 18-12 majority, meaning that just eight Republicans need to cast votes to convict Paxton for him to be shown the door and thus, be barred from ever holding another public office.
Here’s where it gets mighty complicated. Ken Paxton is, in effect, a criminal defendant. How does he go home to his wife every day and not talk about how his day is going? How does he avoid talking about the case presented by the House impeachment managers? How does he, thus, avoid talking to a potential juror who will decide his political fate?
That would be, um, jury tampering … yes?
My thought? It’s too big a temptation to avoid. Therefore, Sen. Paxton needs to pull herself out of the jury pool and let her colleagues make this decision.
We witnessed a stunning bit of theater this weekend in Austin. Republicans in the Legislature have led the charge to bring impeachment proceedings forward. The House’s shattering vote to impeach the attorney general gives me reason to believe the Senate is capable of following suit.
Sen. Paxton’s recusal would lower the Senate bar just a bit, but it would be enough to give AG Paxton reason to sweat bullets.
The old Chinese proverb has never been truer … that we truly are “living in interesting times.”