A moment of profound reckoning has just fallen out of the sky and landed squarely in the laps of Texas’s Republican legislators as they now must deal with whether to impeach a member of their party who happens to be the state’s attorney general.
Ken Paxton has been recommended for impeachment by the House General Investigations Committee, which has three Republicans and two Democrats serving. The panel voted unanimously to recommend that Paxton be impeached on allegations of egregious misconduct within his office.
This is, to borrow a phrase, a “big … deal.” You know?
Paxton has been operating under suspicious cloud cover ever since he took office in 2015. A Collin County grand jury indicted him for securities fraud that year. Then some whistleblowing lawyers in the AG’s office quit, citing allegations of bribery and mishandling of cases involving political donors.
Then Paxton settled with the lawyers and was ordered to pay $3.3 million. Only he wants taxpayers to foot the bill. That drew immediate push back from House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican from Beaumont, who said Texas taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for Paxton’s settlement.
Then Paxton fired back, saying Phelan should resign, accusing the speaker of being drunk on the job.
The intraparty conflict has exploded into a full-blown firefight.
The task before the House GOP caucus is whether they want to join their 64 Democratic colleagues in impeaching the AG. As the Texas Tribune reports, the GOP caucus has been mostly silent about Paxton’s woes. Until now.
Even some of Paxton’s friends in the House and Senate now are taking a quieter approach to speaking out on this matter.
Republican-led effort to impeach Ken Paxton is a seismic political shift | The Texas Tribune
The ground is shaking and rattling under everyone’s feet in Austin these days. Ken Paxton, to my way of thinking, has shamed his office. No AG can function effectively as the state’s top law enforcer with the suspicion that has dogged Ken Paxton from the get-go.
We have a terrible mess on our hands and to my way of thinking, it is time for the House — and then the Senate — to do its job by impeaching the attorney general and then tossing him out of office with a conviction.