Tag Archives: Paxton impeachment

Regret seeps in

Occasionally I get a question from friends of mine who live far from Texas, where my family and I have called home for nearly 40 years.

“Do you regret moving there, given the politics of the state.”

I have been able to answer with a straight face, “No. I have made a nice living here as a journalist.  Besides, I don’t take my politics home with me at the end of the day.”

Some regret, though, is beginning to seep into my skull and into my heart. The source comes from the recent acquittal of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton by the Republican-controlled state Senate.

From my vantage point, it appeared to me the multiple charges leveled against Paxton looked credible. I had hoped the Senate would ratify the Texas House’s overwhelming impeachment of the AG. It didn’t. Senators acquitted Paxton on every one of the 16 counts for which he was put on trial.

I have concluded that in this state, Republican are ouster-proof, no matter the evidence that piles up against them. House impeachment trial managers presented testimony from former assistant AGs, from political pals of the individual who gained from his relationship with Paxton.

It went into the ears of senators and out the other side. Why? I guess because most of them are Republicans, just like the AG. They listened more to their partisan voices than to whether the AG disgraced his office, which is what the charges against him implied.

The GOP grip on the political machinery in this state is ironclad, yes? It is that partisan loyalty that resulted in Paxton’s acquittal.

The result disappointed me greatly, so much so that for the first time since 1984, when my wife and I moved here with our still-young sons, I cannot shake the pangs of regret.

GOP gap widens with acquittal

Dan Patrick wasted no time in displaying his partisan stripes after the Texas Senate acquitted Attorney General Ken Paxton of the charges leveled against him by the House of Reps that impeached him.

The lieutenant governor blasted the House for “wasting” taxpayers’ money on an impeachment that didn’t produce a conviction on any of the 16 charges examined by senators.

Fellow Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan fired back, calling Patrick’s remarks unseemly while defending the House for acting on a legitimate complaint brought by the House panel charged with investigating wrongdoing in state government. Phelan said this in a statement:

Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial escalates Republican civil war | The Texas Tribune

OK, I’ll go with Phelan’s view of this intraparty civil war that now appears ready to burst into full-throated venom.

From my seat in North Texas, the House acted within its purview. The Senate acted, too, within its own set of rules. I disagree with the Senate’s findings and its conclusion, which of course shouldn’t surprise anyone.

As for the process being a waste of time and money, it was nothing of the sort. If anything, the Senate well might have been the major wasters by closing its collective mind to what the House investigators determined when they recommended impeachment.

Paxton wins, integrity loses

On the day that the Texas Senate voted to give suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton a pass on a litany of allegations filed against him, I got a flier in my mailbox that said something quite different.

Texans Against Public Corruption sent it out with brief testimonials from four prominent Texas conservatives who say that Paxton has destroyed public integrity with his willful conduct as the state AG.

Who are these folks? Former Gov. Rick Perry, former U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy and former state Sen. Konni Burton. Perry shames the Texas GOP for seeking to “delegitimize the impeachment process”; Roy said Paxton “must resign”; Burton wonders how a man who cheats on his wife can tell the truth to his constituents; Gohmert says bluntly that “the guy is corrupt.”

Sigh …

A two-week impeachment trial ended today with acquittals on 16 impeachment counts, with just two Republicans joining Democrats to convict a guy whom the House impeached in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote.

The acquittal means Paxton can return to his job as AG, returning to the same sleazy atmosphere from which he was suspended after his impeachment.

I clearly was hoping for a different outcome, given the shame that Paxton has brought to the office he has disgraced since 2015. I won’t surrender totally to the political gods, though. He still has a state charge of securities fraud for which he eventually will stand trial and the federal government is continuing to examine other corruption allegations.

Just maybe there is a semblance of justice to be found. I was hoping it would arrive today in the Texas Senate chamber.

Texas GOP: stand tall … OK?

Texas Senate Republicans are going to get a chance to demonstrate that they have the courage lacking in their national colleagues when a Texas attorney general whom the House impeached for a variety of alleged offenses relating to the conduct of his office.

U.S. Capitol Hill Republicans had the same opportunity — twice, in fact — when the House impeached Donald Trump. Both times, the GOP couldn’t muster enough guts to toss the POTUS out of office.

The signs in Austin are demonstrating a potentially different outcome, given the monstrous majority vote in the Texas House to impeach the AG. Many Republicans joined their House Democratic colleagues in endorsing the impeachment articles presented by the GOP-run House Government Investigations Committee.

Now, though, comes the Senate, which has a high bar to clear, just as the U.S. Senate had a high bar. The Texas Senate comprises 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. One of the GOP senators, Angela Paxton, is married to the defendant and she will not take an active part in the deliberations and in the vote.

Still, the Texas Senate has a two-thirds majority requirement for conviction. The Senate well might be able to reach that majority, given the huge body of evidence that has been collected.

That, and the constant drumbeat of criticism that keeps coming from the AG’s office and all the legal difficulty that seems to find Paxton.

For my money, it doesn’t take courage to do the right thing, which would be to examine the evidence and then cast a vote. What’s more, Paxton doesn’t seem to engender the kind of blind and brainless fealty among Texas Republicans that Trump does among the national party.

Let the trial begin.


Next up: Paxton trial

The Texas Senate has adjourned for the time being, until it convenes in early September to take up another matter that has nothing to do with legislating.

It has everything to do with good government and whether Texas deserves an attorney general who isn’t always under investigation for this or that alleged criminal activity.

The trial of impeached Republican AG Ken Paxton will commence Sept. 5. The House impeached Paxton in a decisive, bipartisan vote. This week, the legal team leading the prosecution gained an important Republican member, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill.

O’Neill, who returned to private law practice in 2010, calls the charges against Paxton “clear, compelling and decisive,” and she is looking forward to joining the legal team prosecuting the attorney general.

The multiple articles of impeachment cover a wide range of allegations, including bribery, abuse of office, obstruction of justice. The notion that O’Neill has joined the team isn’t lost on those involved with the impeachment.

According to the Texas Tribune: State Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, who leads the House General Investigating Committee and the Board of Impeachment Managers, called O’Neill a “respected, conservative jurist.”

Harriet O’Neill, retired Republican justice, joins team impeaching Paxton | The Texas Tribune

Texans deserve far better than what they are getting from the state’s top legal eagle.

The hurdle for conviction is high. Texas needs two-thirds of senators to vote to convict the AG. I am going to hope we can get past the Paxton Era and move ahead with an attorney general who isn’t stained and sullied by scandal and corruption.


Take a seat, Sen. Paxton

It wasn’t the perfect solution, but I’ll accept it as a worthy compromise, given the stakes involved.

Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, will “participate” in the upcoming Senate trial of her husband, Attorney General Ken Paxton. But she won’t be allowed a vote on whether to convict her hubby on several impeachment articles related to the conduct of his office. Nor will she be allowed to attend closed Senate sessions.

The Senate worked out the procedures for the trial that will begin Sept. 5. It will last a couple of weeks, according to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who will preside over the first impeachment trial ever of a state attorney general.

AG Paxton has been an embarrassment since taking office in January 2015. He has been under felony indictment almost since the beginning of his time in office. He has been outed as an alleged crook by whistleblowers who complained about the way he runs his office.

The Texas House voted overwhelmingly to impeach Paxton. The bar for conviction, though, is high: two-thirds of senators need to vote “yes” on conviction. If any of the charges passes muster, Paxton is out.

That his wife, the senator, won’t be voting lowers the bar just a smidgen. I am troubled that she’ll still be present to influence her colleagues’ votes, although it should be noted that one of the impeachment articles includes an allegation that the AG was having an extramarital affair … go figure, eh?

This case shouldn’t drag on and on.

Let the process run its course.


They’re ‘eating their young’

A friend and former colleague recently invoked the memory of the late Teel Bivins, a state senator from Amarillo who was fond of suggesting that Republican politicians occasionally engage in a form of political cannibalism.

“They eat their young,” Bivins once said of his fellow Republican legislators, referring to the every-10-year exercise called “redistricting.”

Bivins isn’t around to see what has become of his once-glorious political party. I imagine he would be, well, aghast at the sight of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton being impeached and now awaiting trial in the Texas Senate.

Bivins was long gone from this good Earth when Paxton was elected AG. I don’t recall Bivins being cut from the same slimy cloth that produced the MAGA cult that is backing Paxton. He was more of a “traditional conservative,” favoring private property ownership, low taxes and fiscal restraint.

But, yes, the GOP is “eating its young” at this moment as the party grapples with the consequences of the stunning and overwhelming vote in the Texas House to impeach Paxton over a series of allegations, involving bribery, abuse of power and something called “official corruption.”

Collin County’s GOP House delegation all voted to impeach Paxton, who also hails from Collin County. How can that possibly bode well for the AG? It can’t … I tell ya!

Thus, the Republican cannibals are picking away at the bones of an AG who’s been in some sort of legal difficulty ever since he took office in 2015.

I just hope they have concluded what many other Texans have done. Which is to say “enough is enough” with this clown.

There is no way to know what Teel Bivins would think, but my fondest hope of the man I knew pretty well would be that he, too, would be repulsed.


Paxton support at home is, um, shaky

What do you know about this? The Texas Tribune reports that all the state legislators who represent portions of Collin County — Attorney General Ken Paxton’s home county — voted to impeach him at the end of the Texas Legislature’s session.

The Tribune reports: But a unanimous vote to impeach Paxton by the five Republican representatives from Collin County — Frederick Frazier of McKinney, Jeff Leach of Plano, Matt Shaheen of Plano, Justin Holland of Rockwall and Candy Noble of Lucas — exposed a statewide rift within the GOP that’s apparently also been playing out in Paxton’s backyard.

Not only that, but Rep. Leach is one of the House impeachment managers who will make the case to the state Senate, which is set to begin trying Paxton for an assortment of allegations no later than Aug. 28.

“It has been true that Paxton had the support of Collin County, but that support has been decreasing over the years, and when the crunch came, it was simply no longer there,” according to Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University and a Collin County resident.

This is fascinating stuff for me, given (a) that I, too, live in Collin County and (b) that I want Paxton to be booted out of office.

We all should have smelled that Paxton was in serious jeopardy when so many GOP House members voted with their Democratic colleague in impeaching Paxton, who becomes the first Texas AG ever impeached.

Ken Paxton’s impeachment hints at shaky support in Collin County, his longtime base of power (msn.com)

There might be a reckoning to be had when the Senate convenes its trial. At least one can hope.


Patrick and Hancock: men in the hot seat

Dan Patrick and Kelly Hancock are the top two officers in the Texas Senate and they both likely face the tasks of their political careers later this summer.

The Senate is going to convene a special session to begin a trial to determine whether Attorney General Ken Paxton should be tossed out of office after being impeached by the House this past week.

Patrick is the state’s lieutenant governor and he presides over the Senate. Hancock represents Senate District 9 in Fort Worth and is the Senate president pro tem. They’re Nos. 1 and 2.

Hancock prides himself on being a strong fiscal “small-government” conservative.” Patrick, well, considers himself to be a fire-breathing social conservative.

According to a political science professor at the University of Houston, Brandon Rottinghaus — an acknowledged expert on Texas government and politics — said in an email that he “isn’t sure exactly how they’ll do it or if they will share duties. But Patrick will decide all of the process/procedural questions.”

I am suspicious of Patrick, given what I know of him and his reputation for hyper-partisanship. He already has declared his support for Paxton, who stands accused of committing a series of serious ethical violations and is under criminal indictment for securities fraud. The House’s overwhelming vote to impeach the attorney general is a clear signal — at least it is to me — that many Republicans in government are fed up with Paxton’s behavior.

How this trial proceeds will depend on the manner that Patrick answers those “procedural questions” mentioned by Rottinghaus.

I hope he walks the straight and narrow path and disallows any bias to creep into these critical decisions.


Recuse yourself, Sen. Paxton

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.”