Tag Archives: Texas GOP

Dan Patrick: no surprises

The more I think about it, the less surprised I should be about Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s in-your-face reaction to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s acquittal in his two-week-long impeachment trial.

Patrick has called for a full audit of the expenses incurred during the impeachment of the attorney general that ended up in the laps of 30 Texas senators. Patrick accused the House of Representatives of acting in a political manner when it impeached Paxton on multiple charges of corruption.

When you think about, Patrick’s assertion is as absurd and laughable as it gets. Why is that? Because 121 House members voted to impeach Paxton, and that number includes a lot of Republicans who crossed the great chasm to impeach the AG. Which begs the question: Did the Republican House members fall victim to their partisan instincts? Hardly! They voted their conscience.

Yes, Patrick stayed out of the way during the trial. I am grasping for a reason, though, why he chose to level the audit threat against the House for doing its constitutional duty.

The dude got the outcome he seemingly wanted, which was an acquittal of Paxton, who became the subject of the GOP-led House impeachment probe after several top AG department legal eagles quit in disgust … and then blew the whistle on what they reportedly witnessed.

Why did it surprise me, then, when he started hurling accusations at epithets at the Texas House? I guess I expected more from someone who arguably occupies the most powerful elected office in Texas. Lt. Gov. Patrick damn sure didn’t need to throw his weight around … or so I thought.

Silly me.

Patrick fills me with regret

Dan Patrick quickly made me regret that I issued a compliment to him over the way he had presided over the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The lieutenant governor, who presides over the Texas Senate, received a bouquet from me because he seemed to be impartial and unbiased in his handling of the trial in the Senate.

Then came Paxton’s acquittal by 30 senators … and what did Patrick do? He shot off his pie hole by declaring that the Texas House that had impeached Paxton had wasted Texans’ tax money by alleging that Paxton had committed impeachable offenses. Paxton was impeached overwhelmingly, I must add, in a bipartisan vote among House members.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a fellow Republican, was having none of that, telling Patrick that the lieutenant governor only has revealed his bias. I’ll go with Phelan on this one.

I hate having regrets over what I spew on this blog. But I’ll be damned if I am feeling them now, with Patrick suggesting that he was able to hide his bias.

Oh, and now he wants to conduct an audit of the money spent to impeach the attorney general and then put him on trial. What does he hope to find? That the money went to partisan interests whose mission was to enough evidence to convict the AG?

Sounds as if Patrick has ripped a page out of the congressional GOP caucus’s playbook as it seeks to find a reason — any reason — to impeach a U.S. president.

School choice next up for debate

There is something profoundly counterintuitive about asking people to pull their money out of public education and using that money to pay for others to enroll their children in private schools.

That, however, is what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants the Legislature to do when it meets in a special session next month. I cannot think of a more harebrained idea than this.

Those of us who ardent supporters of public education are going to fight this notion. It turns out that Democratic legislators along with their rural Republican colleagues oppose this idea. For the life of me I don’t understand why the state is seeking to cripple public education in this manner.

I read recently where the Amarillo Independent School District is losing students to private schools already. Texas funds its public school system based on enrollment, so now the state wants to accelerate that decline by giving parents taxpayer money to pull their children out of public schools and enrolling them in private institutions?

I don’t get it.

“There’s an easy way to get it done, and there’s a hard way,” Abbott said on a tele-town hall about the issue. “We will take it either way — in a special session or after an election.”

Abbott says special session on school choice coming in October | The Texas Tribune

That sounds like an ultimatum to me.

Public education is an investment I happen to be willing to make. That the governor would want Texas to make it easier to injure the public school systems in the state is an utterly astonishing policy decision.

Fight is far from finished

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made his point with crystal clarity … which is that the fight among Texas Republicans is far from over in light of the acquittal of Attorney General Ken Paxton in his historic impeachment trial.

To be honest, I really shouldn’t give a rat’s backside of the looming GOP fight. I just fear it’s going to bring even more scorn to the state my wife and I chose to call home nearly 40 years ago.

Patrick, as president of the Texas Senate, presided over the AG’s trial and, to my thinking, did a credible job of staying out of the way. Then came the acquittal by 30 senators. That gave Patrick license, in his mind, to declare that the impeachment was a waste of time and money. It was nothing of the sort.

He blamed House Republicans — who voted overwhelmingly to join their Democratic colleagues to impeach Paxton — for what others have called a “kangaroo court” and a “sham.” The GOP controls both legislative chambers, so in Patrick’s view, most House members were “supposed” to join their Senate colleagues in giving Paxton a pass.

We are witnessing a Texas version of what is transpiring nationally with Republicans fighting among themselves, divided between those who are loyal to the rule of law and those who adhere to the doctrine of a political party.

It looks horrible at a national level … and it’s just as ugly as it plays out in Austin.

Senators aren’t RINOs

Robert Nichols and Kelly Hancock already have been labeled Republicans In Name Only by the Ken Paxton acolytes who are angry at the state senators for voting their conscience in the just-completed Senate impeachment trial of the formerly suspended attorney general.

Sens. Nichols and Hancock did what they felt was the right thing to do, which was vote to convict Paxton on the impeachment articles tossed onto senators’ laps by the overwhelming House majority that impeached him for misconduct of his office.

I would laugh out loud at the notion that Nichols and Hancock are RINOs, except that it isn’t a funny accusation to make. Hancock, from Tarrant County, is considered one of the more conservative members of the Senate; Nichols, who hails from Jacksonville, isn’t far behind.

And yet … the Paxton crowd is going to tar these men for agreeing with their fellow House Republicans that Paxton committed misdeeds worthy of him getting tossed from office.

This signals arguably the start of a sort of “civil war” among the MAGA wing of the Texas GOP and the rest of the Republicans in the Legislature. The MAGA wing won the argument when the Senate acquitted Paxton and allowed him to return to work.

Nichols and Hancock aren’t up for re-election until 2026, which might explain why they showed the backbone missing among their Republican colleagues. Perhaps they see tempers cooling enough until the 2026 GOP primary season kicks into high gear.

Whatever. Neither man is a RINO, period. Given the state of the Republican Party these days, the RINO label just might stick to them.

That would be a shame.

AG goes back to work … but how?

Well, I guess Ken Paxton goes back to work as the chief law enforcement officer in Texas.

But how in the world does he do that, given all he has been through and all the negative exposure his conduct has brought to the state?

The Texas Senate acquitted Paxton on 16 charges brought against him by the overwhelming House decision to impeach him. Fourteen senators voted to convict, with 16 voting to acquit; only two Republican senators crossed over to convict Paxton. Paxton’s impeachment forced the state to suspend him from his job.

The AG remains heavily damaged goods, no matter the outcome of this unprecedented Senate impeachment trial. He still faces state charges of securities fraud and will stand trial — eventually, I suppose — for those alleged crimes, which were delivered in 2015 by an indictment handed down by a Collin County grand jury.

Has he done anything to mend the damaged fence between the parties? Here is what the Texas Tribune reported: “The sham impeachment coordinated by the Biden Administration with liberal House Speaker Dade Phelan and his kangaroo court has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, disrupted the work of the Office of Attorney General and left a dark and permanent stain on the Texas House,” Paxton said in a statement. “The weaponization of the impeachment process to settle political differences is not only wrong, it is immoral and corrupt.”

There are no heroes to be found in this proceeding. I would congratulate the attorney general, except that his presence on the state payroll sickens me. He personifies the type of so-called Republican who is more loyal to a man — Donald J. Trump — than he is to the constitutions of the nation and the state.

Several of Paxton’s key legal assistant AGs quit after blowing the whistle that brought about the impeachment articles. Make no mistake, either, of the fact that many Texans disagree with the findings of the Senate, that they believe — as I do — that Paxton is unfit to hold the office of attorney general.

That is the environment to which Paxton is returning to work.

God help the state that now must repair the damage brought to its reputation by this individual.

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.

Six candidates seek Slaton’s old seat

Six candidates have filed to run for the Texas House of Representatives seat vacated by the expelled Rep. Bryan Slaton, a Royse City Republican, in one of the more bizarre sex-related scandals in anyone’s recent memory.

The five Republicans who filed are Jill Dutton, former president of Republican Women of Van Zandt; Heath Hyde, a Sulphur Springs attorney; Brent Money, a Greenville lawyer; Doug Roszhart, vice chair of the Hunt County GOP; and Krista Schild, a Hunt County precinct chair. The Democrat is Kristen Washington, a former member of the Greenville City Council.

I’ll rehash briefly what happened to Slaton. The two-term representative took an underage staffer to his Austin apartment, filled her with booze and then had sex with her. This supposedly “devout Christian” never apologized for his action when the House called him on it; he exhibited zero contrition. So the House voted unanimously to oust his sorry a** out of the House.

I notice that three of the five Republican candidates are men.

Hmm. Fine, but let me caution all those fellas about the risk of campaigning for a seat once held by a politician who got caught breaking his most sacred of oaths.

Six file to run in special election to replace Rep. Bryan Slaton | The Texas Tribune

Do not, gentlemen, brag to the Texas House District 2 residents you will meet about “being faithful to my wife.” It is expected that the vow you take is intended to last forever. Marital fidelity is no reason to vote for you.

Got it? Good!

Paxton trial about to begin … bring it!

A source I have developed at a major Texas university told me this week — off the record — about what he thinks might happen when Ken Paxton stands trial in the Texas Senate for high crimes and misdemeanors he allegedly committed while serving as Texas attorney general.

My source said it’s a tough call, “but right now I’d say he gets acquitted.” He said the Senate’s partisan makeup, with 18 Republicans and 12 Democrats, likely could save Paxton from being kicked out of office if he is convicted of any of the crimes alleged against him.

“But that could change” once the trial begins,” my friend said.

The Texas House impeached Paxton in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote; many House Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in impeaching Paxton based on the unanimous recommendation of the House committee tasked with examining the myriad complaints against Paxton.

The panel ruled that Paxton took a bribe from a key campaign ally and abused the power of his office to conceal an extramarital affair.

The Senate trial begins Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate and the trial, imposed a sweeping gag order on senators, a decision I happen to endorse. The bar is set high for conviction, as the Senate needs a two-thirds vote to toss Paxton out of office.

The impeachment managers have brought in some heavy hitters to serve as legal counsel for the prosecution. Paxton’s legal team has asked that all but one of the 30-plus counts in the impeachment articles be dismissed.

I am one Texan who wants the AG tossed out, if only to rid the state of the constant embarrassment this clown brings to the law enforcement office he oversees.

Are there enough Republicans in the Senate who will join their Democratic colleagues in making the same decision, that they are fed up with the conduct of an attorney general who brings shame to the high office he occupies?

Let us hope so.

Slaton’s successor needs to be faithful

Northeast Texas voters will get a chance in November to elect someone to represent them in the Texas House of Representatives.

This isn’t your ordinary election, though. Whoever is chosen to represent House District 2 will succeed a man scorned and eventually expelled from the House for his sexual abuse of an underage staffer.

Former Rep. Brian Slaton of Royse City took office in 2021 after defeating Rep. Dan Flynn, who later died. Slaton distinguished himself mainly by being a fire-breathing, flame-throwing conservative intent on pushing the MAGA-style cultural agenda. Then he decided to consume alcohol with a 19-year-old female staffer in his Austin apartment and then have sex with her.

That disgusting episode caught the attention of ethics watchdogs in the Legislature. They examined the allegations, determined they were true, recommended expulsion and the House followed suit.

Republicans running in the deeply conservative district vow to “restore integrity” to the office. That isn’t a huge hill to climb. All they have to do, in my view, is behave professionally and avoid having sex with anyone other than their spouse. 

Ousted Rep. Bryan Slaton’s tarnished legacy looms over special election | The Texas Tribune

Slaton’s legacy, though, lives on in the support some of the candidates are getting from former Slaton allies. Be careful, folks.

I am one Texan who is glad Slaton is outta there. I talked twice with him while writing stories for KETR-FM and I found him to be obnoxious in his fealty to that MAGA agenda. The guy had nothing constructive to offer.

Let’s hope the next state representative can provide an actual vision for where he or she wants to take the region.