What we know about the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton


The Texas House of Representatives voted 121-23 to send articles of impeachment against Attorney General Ken Paxton to the Texas Senate.

The vote came after hours of debate on the articles, that began Saturday with members of the House General Investigating committee laying out their case that Paxton abused his office and broke the law. The committee members and those who oppose the impeachment resolution had a set amount of time to present their arguments and debate the coming historic vote.

Paxton, 60, is immediately suspended until his trial in the Senate, where his wife, Angela Paxton serves.

The embattled attorney general, who took office in 2015, has faced legal troubles for years: Troubles that were outlined by a panel of House General Investigating Committee lawyers who addressed lawmakers in an hours-long Wednesday hearing.

Paxton has been under felony indictment for securities fraud since 2015, but has not gone to trial in the case. Separately, the FBI is investigating him for allegedly abusing his office to aid a campaign contributor, real estate investor Nate Paul, the Associated Press reported. The former employees who reported him to the FBI for corruption also filed a whistleblower lawsuit.

The committee, it was revealed Tuesday, had been investigating Paxton for months after he agreed to settle that lawsuit with $3.3 million in taxpayer dollars. Money for the settlement is subject to legislative approval.

What do the articles of impeachment say?

The document includes 20 articles: Seven for disregard of official duty, three for false statements in public records, two for constitutional bribery, two for obstruction of justice, one for conspiracy and attempted conspiracy, one for misapplication of public resources, one for misappropriation of of public resources, one for dereliction of duty, one for unfitness for office and one for abuse of public trust.

Among the findings, the resolution laying out the articles says Paxton fired employees for reporting his unlawful actions to law enforcement. He misused public resources when he had employees conduct a “sham investigation” into the whistleblower complaints.

Paxton concealed wrongful acts connected to the whistleblower complaints when he entered the settlement agreement, delaying the discovery of evidence and trial testimony “which deprived the electorate of its opportunity to make an informed decision when voting for attorney general,” one article reads.

Paxton benefited from having Paul, the campaign donor and real estate investor, employ a woman with whom Paxton was having an affair. Paul in turn got favorable legal assistance or special access to the attorney general’s office, the document reads. Paxton also engaged in bribery when a man named Nate, presumably Nate Paul provided Paxton home renovations in exchange for legal help and access, says another article.

Paxton had his staff intervene in a lawsuit against Paul, harming a charitable organization, and had his office issue an opinion to help Paul avoid sale foreclosures on some of his properties or businesses. He also had an outside attorney look into a business complaint to benefit Paul, for which he issued more than 30 grand jury subpoenas, an article says. Those subpoenas were ultimately quashed, according to Wednesday’s testimony.

Paxton obstructed justice when he benefited from the filing of a lawsuit by a political donor that disrupted the pay of prosecutors in the criminal case against Paxton, causing delays in the case, the document reads.

Paxton also made false personal statements to the State Securities Board, the Texas Ethics Commission and in public comments responding to whistleblower allegations, it says.

The final article says Paxton brought the attorney general’s office “into scandal” and lowered the public’s confidence in Texas’ government.

Paxton’s response

Paxton posted a statement on Twitter immedately after the vote.

“I am beyond grateful to have the support of millions of Texans who recognize that what we just witnessed is illegal, unethical, and profoundly unjust,” Paxton said in a post on Twitter. “I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate, where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just.”

Mistress at heart of allegations in impeachment papers

At the heart of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s recent troubles is that he used his office to help a political donor — Austin real estate investor Nate Paul — in exchange for allegedly helping the attorney general remodel his home and giving Paxton’s mistress a job in his company.

According to thedailybeast.com, “Paxton reportedly acknowledged the affair with the woman, who worked as an aide to a Texas state senator, to his staff in 2018 and said he had ended it.”

Paul has denied that his hiring of the woman was as a favor to Paxton.

Resignations of seven senior members of Paxton’s staff followed, accusing their boss of accepting bribes and abusing his office. Others were fired. Four of his former employees filed suit, arguing that Paxton and his agency improperly retaliated against them. A $3.3 million settlement was reached earlier this year.

“Each of these four men is a conservative Republican civil servant,” investigator Erin Epley told the House committee. “Interviews show that they wanted to be loyal ... and they tried to advise him well and strongly. When that failed, each was fired after reporting General Paxton to law enforcement.”

Where articles of impeachment against Ken Paxton mentions his mistress


(Constitutional Bribery-Paul’s Employment of Mistress)

While holding office as attorney general, Warren Kenneth Paxton engaged in bribery in violation of Section 41, Article XVI, Texas Constitution.

Specifically, Paxton benefited from Nate Paul’s employment of a woman with whom Paxton was having an extramarital affair. Paul received favorable legal assistance from, or specialized access to, the office of the attorney general.

Who is Ken Paxton’s wealthy donor, Nate Paul?

Nate Paul is a real estate investor based in Austin. He is the son of Indian immigrants.

He founded his company, World Class, in 2007 telling Forbes: “I was buying at the pit of the crisis. In many of those deals, there was no other bidder.”

He bought storage facilities, land in Austin, a marina on Lake Travis and a building being used by a call center in south Austin — exploiting the low prices and low-interest-rate opportunities after the 2008 financial meltdown.

Less than a decade later, institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies helped grow his business into the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Austin Business Journal. His success got him on Forbes “30 under 30” list. By 2017, Forbes estimated his net worth to be about $800 million.

What is the court of impeachment in Texas?

  • The Senate accepts the articles of impeachment from the House. Then it meets in a court of impeachment for a trial. It is up to the Senate to determine the day and time of the trial. The body may decide to go over the time allotted to the current session.

  • If the Senate is not in session, the House will deliver by messenger or certified mail the articles of impeachment to the governor, lieutenant governor and every senator. Then a date will be set for the Senate to reconvene.

  • Every member of the Senate must attend the court of impeachment.

  • Like any court, the court of impeachment in the Senate may compel testimony and send for “persons, papers, books and other documents.”

  • A two thirds vote of the Senate is needed to convict.

What happens to the post of attorney general?

Under Texas law, Gov. Greg Abbott can can make an appointment to temporarily fill the vacant attorney general position.

How many Texas politicians have been impeached?

Only two other Texas politicians have ever been impeached and removed from office.

James Ferguson is the only Texas governor to be impeached and convicted. Ferguson was indicted on nine charges in Travis County, with a majority related to misapplication of public funds and another for embezzlement. He was impeached and removed from office in 1917, according to The Texas Politics Project.

State District Judge O.P. Carillo is the second and last elected official impeached in Texas. Carillo was impeached and removed from his position in 1976 for using his office to improperly spend county funds, according to Justia US Law.