Tag Archives: Texas House

What if senators …

Let us play a brief game of “what if … ” involving the Texas Senate and the pending trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

I will admit readily that this game is the longest of long shots imaginable, but I cannot get past a historical precedent that could — possibly — portend a similar outcome for the embattled AG.

Let us recall what happened to President Richard Nixon when, in 1974, he was facing impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives. The House was set to impeach the president on obstruction of justice over the Watergate scandal.

Then a group of Republican senators went to the White House. They included Sens. Barry Goldwater, Hugh Scott, Bob Dole and other heavyweights. They told Nixon that the jig was up. He would be convicted by the Senate once a trial concluded. They urged him to resign.

So … the president quit.

Fast-forward to the here and now and we have a Texas attorney general already impeached by the state House. The vote was overwhelming. He has been accused in a 20-count impeachment document.

Is it possible that word can leak out prior to the start of a Senate trial that Paxton doesn’t have the votes to survive, in the manner that President Nixon faced in the summer of 1974?

What might the AG do? He doesn’t want to be the first attorney general ever tossed out of office. Plus — and this is critical — he would lose his state pension were he to be convicted and booted out of office; if he quits, he can keep his pension.

I am not concerned about the pension and whether he would keep it. My priority is to get this clown removed from office. He has disgraced the attorney general’s office almost since he became AG in 2015.

My hope, too, is 20 senators of both parties — which is what is required to convict him — are fed up enough to boot him out of office.

If the AG quits prior to the start of a trial, then the state will win no matter what were to happen in a trial.


Hoping they’ve had enough

My eternal optimism often gets tested by Texas politicians, so many of whom are motivated by forces with which I disagree vehemently.

But … it is getting a push in the right direction with the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton and his pending trial in the Senate on allegations that he is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.

Senators will convene a trial no later than Aug. 28. They’re going to hear a chorus of allegations leveled against the AG: that he took a bribe to help a campaign donor, that he cheated on his wife (one of the senators who might get to decide his guilt or innocence), that he fired whistleblowers for making complaints about his behavior.

The House General Investigating Committee referred the impeachment in the House. It was a unanimous vote. The House impeached the Republican AG by an overwhelming vote of 121-25. House members showed considerable backbone in condemning the AG.

Oh, and then we hear about political threats he made to House Republicans if they voted to impeach him.

And why? My hope — if not yet my sense — is that Republicans are fed up to here with the constant drumbeat of allegations of misbehavior by the state’s top law enforcement officer.

It seems to me that whenever Paxton’s name shows up in the news it has something to do with someone complaining about the manner in which he is doing his job.

We need an attorney general who can make news simply by performing the tasks of his office.

Thus, I will hope that Texas senators can borrow from the spunk shown by the House colleagues. My eternal optimism needs a kick.


Impeachment reveals GOP fissures

Talk about divisions within a political party, let alone between that party and the other major governing organization.

Texas political observers were treated this past weekend to an up-close and personal look at how sharply divided the Texas Republican Party has become. A significant majority of GOP members in the Texas Legislature voted to impeach Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton on an array of ethical and criminal allegations.

Now comes the fight of Paxton’s political life as he now must stand trial in the GOP-dominated Texas Senate.

When will that trial occur? Beats the cornbread stuffing out of me!

The impeachment vote in the Texas House, frankly, astonished me. I was expecting a closer vote than what came out. The final tally was 121-23, meaning that most House Republicans voted to impeach Paxton. The Texas Tribune reported: About 70% of House Republicans voted Saturday to impeach — 60 of the 85 Republicans in the 150-seat chamber. That included a coalition of center-right and conservative Republicans who defied their party’s far right and heeded the call to protect the state from a public official who had abused his office and power for personal gain.

Ken Paxton impeachment fight exposes deep fissures among Texas Republicans | The Texas Tribune

What does one draw from this stunning outcome? My take is that the Texas Republicans who occupy public office in the Legislature are weary of Paxton’s long list of legal skirmishes, either with the authorities who are probing his conduct or with Paxton seeking to raise hell with Democrats in high places.

The attorney general has done little more during his more than two terms in office than make a spectacle of himself. Thus, we might be witnessing serious fissures within the Texas Republican Party.

Gov. Greg Abbott, another Republican (of course!), needs to call the Texas Senate back to work in advance of the trial that will commence in that legislative chamber. One of the senators who will report for duty is Angela Paxton, the attorney general’s wife. Your blogger (me!) has called already for Sen. Paxton to recuse herself. I hope she heeds my unsolicited advice.

None of that will lessen the divide that will play out as the Senate hears evidence gathered by House Republican investigators into the slew of allegations that have piled up around the attorney general.

As a Texan who is not affiliated with the Republican Party, I am watching all this with a healthy dose of bemusement.

It makes me wonder out loud if Republicans in this state are as incompetent at governing as their national colleagues who gathered at the start of the year and burned through 15 ballots just to elect a speaker of the House.


Impeachment vote set!

Here we go, ladies and gentlemen. The Texas House of Representatives is set to vote Saturday on whether to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The question of the moment: Are there enough Republicans to grant the House the simple majority it needs to impeach the AG?

All 64 House Democrats are likely to cast affirmative votes to impeach Paxton. Of the 149 members of the House, that means just nine Republicans need to join their Democratic colleagues to impeach Paxton.

Here’s where it gets weird. An impeachment would require Paxton to step away from his office while the Senate prepares to conduct a trial that could result in his expulsion as the state’s top law enforcement officer.

This is the most serious intraparty squabble I’ve ever seen in the nearly 40 years I’ve been watching and covering Texas government.

Paxton has been under a mountain of trouble since being elected AG in 2014. A Collin County grand jury indicted him on allegations of securities fraud; whistleblowing lawyers quit as they alleged widespread corruption; they settled with Paxton, whom they had sued, but then Paxton sought to have Texas taxpayers foot the bill for the settlement. The allegations include bribery and even an extramarital affair.

It’s been nothing but a mess with this guy.

The bipartisan House General Investigation Committee voted unanimously to recommend impeachment.

So … on Saturday, the House will make that decision.

Texas House Vote on Impeachment of AG Paxton Set for Saturday (msn.com)

The 20-count impeachment lays out a huge array of issues. The 20th article of impeachment declares: “While holding office as attorney general, (Paxton) used, misused or failed to use his official powers  in a manner calculated to subvert the lawful operation of the government of the State of Texas and obstruct the fair and impartial administration of justice, thereby bringing the Office of Attorney General into scandal and disrepute to the prejudice of public confidence in the government of this State.” 

Now we get to see what the Texas House Republican caucus will do when presented with these most serious allegations.


Why no remorse?

There likely isn’t a good reason to ask this question of a disgraced former Texas state legislator, but I’ll ask it anyway.

Is Bryan Slaton a dyed-in-the-wool sociopath? 

Here’s the deal. Slaton, a Royse City Republican, was caught having sex with an intern. He filled her with alcohol and then had his way with her in his apartment in Austin. The House General Investigations Committee got wind of it, examined the allegation, and then recommended his expulsion from the Texas House.

Slaton testified before the committee and according to sources on the scene, he expressed zero remorse, contrition or offered nothing resembling an apology for his hideous action. He resigned his House seat, but the House expelled him anyway in a unanimous vote.

Isn’t that the behavior of a sociopath?

Contrast that with the reaction that came from another Republican politician, former U.S. Rep. Van Taylor of Plano. Taylor was running for re-election 2022 when it was revealed he had an affair with a woman who once was married to an Islamic State officer.

When word of his misbehavior got out, Taylor issued a statement calling his action the “worst decision I ever have made.” He apologized to his wife and children and then backed out of his re-election campaign.

Taylor at least had the good sense and appropriate contrition to apologize to everyone involved.

Not so with Slaton, who ran for election and re-election as a “Christian conservative” dedicated to the family values espoused by the Republican Party.

He’s nothing more than a sociopathic chump.


Slaton: GOP poster boy

Bryan Slaton is the newest poster boy for Republican Party hypocrisy, the type that allows pols to preach about family values while living a life that steers far, far away from such righteousness.

Slaton is the newly expelled member of the Texas House of Representatives. He hails from Royse City, just down the road from me in North Texas.

He campaigned for the office in 2020 claiming to be a champion against those who “groom” underage girls for sexual conduct.

Oops! What happened to Slaton? He got caught having sex with a 19-year-old intern at his Austin apartment; he also filled her with booze. All the while, this moron sought to preach about the family values he said he held dear to his heart.

The Texas Tribune reported: Slaton resigned Monday and was expelled from the House by a unanimous vote Tuesday, but his hypocrisy has cast a harsher light on Republican-led efforts to crack down on supposedly grooming-related activities, including drag performances, gender-affirming care for transgender minors and classroom discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Bryan Slaton’s downfall could complicate GOP fight against “groomers” | The Texas Tribune

The Texas GOP surely needs to re-examine its message and the people it uses to convey that message to voters.

Politicians such as Slaton, those who get caught doing something far from the message they are preaching, deserve to be excoriated and condemned in the harshest terms possible. Slaton’s expulsion vote, which was unanimous in the House, serves as a graphic reminder of the penalty that awaits those who fail to live as they demand of others.

Whether the message that Republicans want to convey remains viable in the wake of Slaton’s lying and marital infidelity is to be determined.

My own advice for the GOP would be to lose the anti-grooming mantra. Every Republican who invokes the message will bring Bryan Slaton to the minds of those hear it.

That is not a good fit.


Slaton quits House … good riddance!

Bryan Slaton, who was about to be expelled by his colleagues in the Texas House of Representatives, has decided to spare himself the humiliation of being booted out of office.

He quit the office on his own!

Slaton, a Royse City Republican, had been investigated for having sex with an intern after serving her alcohol. A House committee had recommended he be expelled from the House, which was set to vote Tuesday on whether to throw his sorry backside out of the place. There still might be a vote, even though Slaton’s gone from the body.

Well, the second-term legislator is done embarrassing the House in which he served, the state that must live by the laws he endorses and his constituents who sent him to the House to do their bidding … which did not include boorish behavior.

This self-proclaimed Christian conservative, a married man who said with no appreciation for the irony he expressed about he now gets to “spend time with my young family,” has disgraced himself.

State Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, said this on social media: “His resignation gave no apology to the young woman he violated, his wife whom he betrayed or his district that he failed. No remorse. No acceptance of responsibility. He’s the victim that rides off into the sunset. That was the resignation of a narcissist.”

Good riddance!


Retired teachers could get a needed raise

Remember that big surplus that Texas legislators found when they convened their session in January? Well, they have found a way to spend some of it … and the cause is a worthy one, indeed.

The Texas House of Representatives has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would give retired Texas teachers a raise in their pensions. The House vote was unanimous, which given the state of partisan politics these days is a huge statement for sure.

The amendment would allow the state to move $1.9 billion from the general fund to the teacher retirement fund, thus allowing the raise to take effect.

This is a good deal for the retired educators who spend their professional lives seeking to educate Texas’s children.

“These people teach our children; they taught us,” state Rep. John Bryan, D-Dallas, said. “We have a moral obligation to them.”

Yes, we do.

Texas House increases pension pay to retired teachers | The Texas Tribune

The bill is set to go to a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Let us hope the spirit of bipartisanship continues as conferees hammer out those differences and send the matter to the voters later this year.

Our retired educators deserve to be treated with the honor and respect they deserve.


Patrick picks needless fight

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick just continues to piss me off to no end at all.

Why? Because the fire-breathing head of the Texas Senate insists that the entire state must kowtow to his idiotic notion that everyone in the state believes as he does. It ain’t so … Dan.

Patrick’s petulance is showing itself as he continues to feud with House Speaker Dade Phelan over the House’s alleged refusal to approve the socially conservative agenda that is part of Patrick’s mantra. Patrick has taken to calling Phelan “California Dade,” an apparent reference to Phelan’s inclination to stick to a more business-friendly approach to legislation and steering the House away from the divisive socially conservative views that Patrick wants to see become law.

Such as? Oh, according to the Texas Tribune: That list includes bills limiting medical treatments for transgender kids; a push to end tenure as well as diversity, equity and inclusion practices in public universities; and a “school choice” push to allow parents to use state dollars to send their kids to private schools, which opponents say would harm the funding of the state’s public education system.

Texas House, Senate leaders clash in final weeks of Legislature | The Texas Tribune

Phelan, meanwhile, touts the House’s fiscally conservative budget, which is more in line with traditional GOP principles. That isn’t good enough to suit Patrick, who is threatening to force Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session if the Legislature — which is set to adjourn its regular session in about a month — doesn’t pass Patrick’s ham-handed agenda.

Look, I get that Texas voters elected this guy as the state’s No. 2 government executive. And that voters elected a conservative Legislature as well. However, there remains a significant number of Texans — such as yours truly — who dislike the tone and tenor of the agenda that Patrick wants to shove onto Gov. Abbott’s desk.

The guy is a MAGA loon who seeks to appeal only to those on the far right who buy into his nonsense.


Partisanship rules in Texas Senate

My old buddy Kel Seliger’s departure from the Texas Senate is now becoming even more clear than it was when he announced his intention to forgo another term in the legislative body.

Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, had crossed swords with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick many times since 2015 when Patrick took over as the Senate’s presiding officer.

Now we see that Patrick has tossed aside a longstanding Texas Senate tradition by appointing just one Democrat to a committee chairmanship. That would be John Whitmire, a moderate from Houston who now serves as the Senate’s most senior member; Whitmire will chair the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Seliger has returned to private life in the Texas Panhandle, no longer having to tolerate Patrick’s petulance and his hyper-partisan approach to governance, neither of which is Seliger’s style.

Compare the Patrick method to that being practiced down hall the Texas Capitol hall in the House, where Speaker Dade Phelan — yes, another Republican — has resisted far-right-wing pressure to appoint only GOP House members to committee chairs. One of those right-wingers, state Rep. Bryan Slaton of Royse City, told me that Phelan is rewarding House Democrats unjustly because they do not hold a majority in the Texas House.

Phelan’s response. That’s just too damn bad … just live with it.

Patrick has tossed aside bipartisanship in running the Senate. As the Dallas Morning News stated in an editorial: Texas has serious business to get done to keep us moving forward as a state. Chances are the Senate will be hog-tied with business it shouldn’t be worrying about. That’s bad for Texans.

So it goes in the Texas Senate, which will be run by a lieutenant governor more interested in sticking it to Democrats than in welcoming them to cooperate in legislating matters that will benefit the whole state.

What a shame.