Impeachment is rare in Texas, but this governor and judge were kicked out of office
A Texas House committee unanimously voted to send a recommendation to the full chamber to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton amid a series of allegations of abuse of office.
The bipartisan Texas House General Investigation Committee, made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, made the decision Thursday. The day before, the panel heard testimony from five outside lawyers with prosecutorial experience alleging that Paxton abused his office by using his authority to help a political ally and donor.
Impeachments of Texas officials are exceptionally rare. Here's what happened in cases involving the only two officials who have been impeached from office.
Texas Gov. James Ferguson was first official to be impeached in state
James Ferguson was Texas' 26th governor, and was impeached during his second term in office. At the time, governors only served two-year terms.
In 1916, he vetoed appropriations for the University Of Texas after the institution refused to fire certain faculty members, including William Harding Mayes, Ferguson's opponent in the Democratic Party's nomination for governor.
What we know: Will Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton be impeached?
Ferguson contended that Mayes, who owned several newspapers and would later become the first dean of the University of Texas' School of Journalism, used his publications to spread negative information about him.
By the next year, Ferguson faced charges of misapplication of public funds and embezzlement in Travis County, leading the House to draft 21 articles of impeachment against the governor. The Senate's trial of Ferguson lasted three weeks, and eventually convicted Ferguson on ten of the articles.
According to UT, Ferguson's misapplication of public funds charges were in connection to his quarrel with the university. He was accused of failing to properly respect and enforce the banking laws of the state, and that he had received $156,500 in currency from a source that he refused to reveal.
He was removed from office in 1917, making him inelligible to hold office in Texas. Still, Ferguson would run for governor, president and U.S. Senate, losing each time.
District Judge O.P. Carrillo was last official in Texas to be impeached
District Judge O.P. Carrillo faced articles of impeachment from the Texas House in 1975.
The legislative body contended that he allegedly using his office to improperly use county funds, employees and equipment for his own benefit, filing false financial statements with the Texas secretary of state and defrauding his county. This included using Duvall County equipment and employees on his ranch.
He was impeached in 1976.
What's next Ken Paxton's impeachment process?
If the 149-member House, where Republicans enjoy an 85-64 majority, votes to impeach the attorney general, he will face a trial in the Senate, where he once served and where his wife currently serves.
A two-thirds vote of the Senate, controlled 19-12 by Republicans, is needed for Paxton to be impeached and removed from office.
Under the Texas Constitution, Paxton would have to step aside at least temporarily if the House votes to impeach him.
"All officers against whom articles of impeachment may be preferred shall be suspended from the exercise of the duties of their office, during the pendency of such impeachment," the Constitution states in Article XV. "The governor may make a provisional appointment to fill the vacancy, occasioned by the suspension of an officer until the decision on the impeachment."
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Texas impeachment: Governor, judge only state officials ever impeached