Just days after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton demanded Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan resign from office for being drunk on the job, Phelan’s lieutenants have announced plans to illegally impeach Paxton.
On Thursday, General Investigating Committee Chairman Andrew Murr filed 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton with charges dating as far back as 2002.
Elected attorney general in 2014, Paxton has been an outspoken conservative, often leading coalitions of state attorneys general against the Obama and Biden administrations, defending Texas’ pro-life and pro-family laws, and supporting the policies of President Donald Trump.
Paxton even took a case contesting the 2020 election to the U.S. Supreme Court, a move that drew sharp criticism from Texas Democrats who sought to defund his office and even initiated complaints against him with the Texas State Bar.
Unabashedly pro-Trump, Paxton had the support of the former president in his recent re-election campaign and has already endorsed Trump in his current presidential campaign.
Honored to receive the endorsement of President Donald J. Trump. pic.twitter.com/LMOtAjVooy
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) July 27, 2021
Paxton is one of Trump’s top allies, but Trump doesn’t hold Phelan in high regard. Just last month, he blasted Phelan’s property tax relief plan and called him “California Dade.” Those comments came two years after he bashed Phelan by comparing him to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and accused him of displaying “weak RINO leadership.”
Trump thus far has not commented on the allegations Phelan is making against Paxton, but the attorney general hasn’t shied away from defending himself.
In a statement released Thursday evening, Paxton characterized Phelan as a liberal, his lieutenants’ efforts to impeach him as an attempt to “overturn the results of a free and fair election,” and their accusations as “based on hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims.”
“By attacking the Office of the Attorney General, corrupted politicians in the Texas House, led by liberal Speaker Dade Phelan, are actively destroying Texas’s position as the most powerful backstop against the Biden agenda in the entire country. The RINOs in the Texas Legislature are now on the same side as Joe Biden, Alejandro Mayorkas, and Chuck Schumer, collaborating to tie our hands and render Texas less powerful and effective in the fight for the nation’s future.”
Phelan’s decision to impeach Paxton — who recently won re-election to his third term despite fielding serious attacks in the Republican primary from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, George P. Bush, Eva Guzman and even Louie Gohmert — is an escalation of the war he has been waging against Texas conservatives since winning the gavel with the backing of Democrats in 2021.
Just this session, Phelan blocked a Republican-led vote on a rules proposal to block him from appointing Democrats to chair House committees. After the Texas GOP went on the airwaves with a radio ad in his district calling on him not to empower the Democrats, he defied his party and appointed eight of them to powerful committee chairmanships.
Phelan has also sided with Democrats to kill border security legislation and supported numerous attacks on the Republican Party of Texas, advancing bills targeting the operation of the party and even ballot access provisions that would turn primary elections into chaos.
Phelan’s allies have also picked fights with Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. They’ve thwarted efforts to pass school choice, stopped a bill to prevent Chinese nationals from buying land in Texas, weakened ESG reform efforts, and watered down a DEI bill to ensure left-wing radicals on college campuses keep their jobs.
Phelan has even killed a bill to end COVID vaccine mandates authored by Trump Health and Human Services official-turned-state Rep. Brian Harrison.
Now Phelan is taking his war on conservatives to an even greater level by launching an illegal impeachment of Paxton. Texas law states that “an officer in this state may not be removed from office for an act the officer may have committed before the officer’s election to office.”
In a Facebook Live video on Thursday afternoon, state Rep. Steve Toth quoted from the code and called the impeachment proceedings an “illegal act.”
“It’s really clear. You can’t remove a statewide officeholder under an alleged accusation that occurred before the person was elected, and that’s exactly what they’re doing right now,” he said.
Toth went on to note that regardless of the law, Phelan and his allies intend to go ahead with the impeachment proceedings against Paxton with the support of “all 64 Democrats and a few Republicans.”
Should Phelan’s illegal impeachment effort succeed in the House, as expected, Paxton would be temporarily removed from office until a trial can be conducted by the Texas Senate. It would require a two-thirds vote of Texas senators to remove Paxton from office.
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