Tag Archives: Texas Senate

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.

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.

It only takes one …

Texas senators have 16 chances to rid the state of an embarrassment and they need to agree only one of them to boot state Attorney General Ken Paxton out of the office that, in my view, he has disgraced.

Senators are deliberating today for the second day on the impeachment charges brought by the House of Representatives. It has been a sh** show, clown show and a riveting time as prosecutors and defense counsel have grilled witnesses on allegations that Paxton abused his office.

I believe he has done so … but it isn’t my call, as I am sitting out here in the Collin County peanut gallery awaiting what I hope is a verdict to send the guy packing.

Nine Senate Republicans need to join their Democratic colleagues to convict Paxton on any of the 16 charges, which center mainly on his relationship with Nate Paul, a big-time real estate mogul and campaign contributor.

I’m going to wait patiently for the Senate to do its job. More to come later … I am sure.

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.

Wishing for a conviction

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick slapped a gag order on Texas senators preparing to try Attorney General Ken Paxton for a rash of allegations of misconduct.

Fine. The gag order doesn’t affect bloggers like me, or any Texan with an opinion on what ought to happen when the Senate convenes the trial on Sept. 5.

What should happen? Texas senators ought to be able to muster up enough courage to boot the sorry out of the office he has sullied since 2015. What will happen? That remains anyone’s guess … but it is looking as though the evidence of Paxton’s alleged abuse of office is building toward a conviction.

For instance, we hear now about cell phones and aliases used by Paxton to hide behavior for which he is being tried.

The Texas House impeached Paxton with an overwhelming bipartisan vote. The Senate has to scale a higher wall if it is to convict this embarrassment of an AG; it needs a two-thirds vote to oust Paxton.

The guy has been nothing but an embarrassment since taking office after the 2014 election. A Collin County grand jury indicted him for securities fraud early in his term … and it has downhill ever since.

How is it that the state’s top law enforcement officer cannot emerge from under the clouds of suspicious activity? This one is stained indelibly.

I dare not predict what the Senate will do. I can hope, though, that enough senators have seen and heard enough from this clown to boot his sorry backside out of office and send him back into private life.

I’ve made no bones about how Paxton has pissed me off repeatedly since becoming Texas AG. He has interfered with efforts to try to reverse the 2020 election results, only to be scolded by the U.S. Supreme Court that he had no authority to tell other states how to run their elections. He continually sues the federal government, with the lawsuits going essentially nowhere.

Twenty Texas senators need to convict this moron; that means about eight Republicans need to flip against the GOP attorney general. My hope is that the GOP senators have more courage than their federal counterparts demonstrated when they let Donald Trump wriggle free.

I am going hold out eternal hope we are going to be rid of Texas AG Ken Paxton.


Yes on gag order!

It’s rare when this blog offers a word of support for a policy decision coming from Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick … but today is one of those days.

I believe strongly that Patrick is correct in issuing a sweeping gag order on the Texas Senate, which on Sept. 5 will begin a trial to determine whether to remove Attorney General Ken Paxton from office after the Texas House impeached him in an overwhelming vote.

Patrick is acting as judge in the Senate, over which he presides as lieutenant governor. His order means that violators can be prosecuted, fined or even jailed.

Patrick’s concern is legit. He worries that statements made outside the chamber could cause undue influence and could taint the proceeding that will occur inside the Senate chamber.

AG Paxton’s defenders in the Senate have popped off needlessly already, as has one of the lawyers hired to prosecute the case, Rusty Hardin. Dan Patrick is having none of it, nor should he allow any comments to go unchecked prior to — and during — the Senate trial. Patrick, moreover, is acting within the trial rules approved by the Senate.

This is serious stuff, folks, and members of the Senate need to give these proceedings the serious attention it deserves.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issues gag order for Paxton impeachment trial | The Texas Tribune

Nothing that anyone can say to me at this point is going to change my own mind. I made my mind up long ago, that Paxton needs to go. He is an embarrassment to the high office he occupies.

But I also believe in the sanctity of the process that is about to unfold. Senators who will act as jurors need to keep their thoughts to themselves … period!



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.


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.”