Why Would Texas Republicans Impeach Ken Paxton? Take Your Pick
On Thursday evening, a special investigative committee of the Texas legislature officially filed charges of impeachment against state Attorney General Ken Paxton. AsThe Texas Tribune reports, the document includes “20 articles listing a yearslong pattern of alleged misconduct and lawbreaking.”
The chair of that committee has already announced that he will call for Paxton’s impeachment. On Wednesday, members of that committee voted unanimously that the attorney general should be impeached. If it happens, it will be a first: No attorney general has been impeached in the history of the state.
Paxton has issued a response calling the legislators members of the “corrupt political establishment,” and posted a statement on Twitter in which he called on the speaker of the Republican-led House to resign for, among other things, allowing “Chinese spies” to control Texas land. He’s also declared that Texas Republicans are tools of President Joe Biden and the Washington elite, all of which should make the upcoming hearings even more enjoyable.
Before you reach for the popcorn, here’s a reminder of some of the “accomplishments” that have marked Paxton’s career.
On January 6, 2021, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stood in front of the Trump supporters gathered at the “Stop the Steal” rally and delivered a speech that made clear allusions to the Civil War. “One of the great things about the state of Texas is, we did not quit,” said Paxton. “If you look at Georgia, they capitulated, they consented. We kept fighting in Texas.” That’s not exactly a record to be brought up with pride, but then there’s little to be proud about anywhere in the record of Paxton.
Just hours after he had urged Trump supporters to, like Texas, “keep fighting” and watched them march for the Capitol, Paxton swore that it wasnot Trump supporters who smashed their way into the building. “These are not Trump supporters,” Paxton wrote on Twitter. Instead he blamed the insurgency on the forces of antifa. When Paxton was asked about his sources, he said he was only reporting what he heard from a “journalist,” by which he meant the fascism-friendly conspiracy site WorldNetDaily.
Paxton topped off his January 6 escapades by refusing to turn over records related to his own appearance at the rally. As with so many things related to Paxton, that battle went to court, where he did what he was so good at doing: make irrational arguments and lose. But those January 6 events were just one small item on the checklist of all things Paxton.
The Texas constitution states that if Paxton is impeached in the House, he will immediately be removed from office until his trial in the Senate. Should he survive that trial, Paxton could go back to misusing his office as he has always done.
Why is Paxton up for impeachment? Take your pick.
- The FBI investigation into how Paxton used his office to illegally help a donor.
- The indictment for fraud that Paxton’s Republican supporters have stalled for years, in part by blocking attorneys prosecuting the case from getting paid. As the AP pointed out, it’s not many people who can avoid going to trial on felony charges for seven straight years—and they made that point last year.
- The $3.3 million that Paxton had to pay out to settle a whistleblower case after a group of his own deputies raised warnings about his actions, including “abuse of office and other crimes.”
- An affair with a woman he later promoted for a high-paying job in a case so tangled it’s hard to tell if it’s bribery or extortion.
- Multiple reports of bribery still under investigation that have not yet been detailed.
There’s also a state bar association investigation into lies Paxton told in court in an effort to overturn the 2020 election, but it’s unlikely the Republican legislature was upset by that point.
Both the legislature and the voters of Texas have supported Paxton over the years as he carried on a crusade of lies and distortions, becoming the poster boy for how a state attorney general’s office could be used to prosecute a political agenda. It's impossible to briefly list all the efforts Paxton has made to sue federal agencies, from the EPA and Homeland Security to Health and Human Services. However, among the “highlights,” Paxton has:
- Repeatedly had a go at overturning aspects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
- Tried to enact a complex system for collecting child support payments, including another failed attempt to sue the federal government that ended up going hundreds of millions over budget and left children without support payments for months.
- Led the charge to try and keep COVID-19 restrictions on immigration even though he also led the charge to sue the federal government over COVID-19 restrictions.
- Sued hospitals for treatment of trans youth well before other Republicans got on board with the persecution.
- Sued four other states for failing to run their elections according to Paxton’s view of the law, an effort that garnered a scathing reply from the attorneys general of those states, as well as a blunt rejection by the Supreme Court saying that Paxton had “not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.”
Hard to believe he lost, considering that Paxton’s lawsuit included “evidence” from the debunked film, 2,000 Mules.
Somehow, through all this, Texas voters still put Paxton in office by a wide margin. That includes returning him to office in 2020 despite three felony indictments and a public investigation by the FBI. Paxton has the biggest selling point of any Republican candidate: He knows how to hate the right people. So don’t be surprised if being impeached is not his last act.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
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