Attorneys for suspended Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a motion on Monday to dismiss all but one of the charges against him, arguing that voters knew of his alleged misconduct when he was elected.
Paxton was impeached by the Texas House of Representatives on May 27 by a bipartisan vote of 121-23 on 20 charges, which range from abuse of power to bribery regarding his relationship with Nathan Paul, a wealthy real estate developer. On Monday, Paxton’s attorneys filed a motion in the Texas Senate, where trials on the impeachment charges will be held, to dismiss 19 charges against him, according to the filing.
Paxton’s attorneys argue that all the allegations described in the charges were known to voters well before they reelected Paxton to his current term.
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Paxton has served as the attorney general of Texas since 2015, and has been elected three times to the post, including over high-profile primary challenges such as Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the nephew and grandson of former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, respectively.
“With only a single exception, the articles (of impeachment) allege nothing that Texas voters have not heard from the Attorney General’s political opponents for years … The alleged acts underlying 19 of the Articles took place before the Attorney General’s most recent election and were highly publicized,” wrote Paxton’s attorneys. Additionally, Paxton’s attorneys filed a motion in the state Senate to exclude all evidence dating prior to January 2023, which is when his third term began.
The one article of impeachment that Paxton’s legal team excluded from the filing was Article VIII, which concerned a $3.3 million settlement that Paxton reached with former employees in his office, who sued him for wrongful termination after they were allegedly dismissed for being whistleblowers against him. The funds for the settlement were to be drawn from public money, which the state Legislature refused to appropriate for that purpose.
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That settlement, and Paxton’s request for public money to pay for it, prompted the Texas House General Investigating Committee to begin its investigation of Paxton and led to the current impeachment proceedings.
Paxton and his attorneys are under a strict “gag order” issued by the presiding officer in the state Senate, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas, to not discuss any aspect of the case in the press, per the lieutenant governor’s website. Patrick said that “out-of-court statements” could compromise the trial, according to The Texas Tribune.
The impeachment process has attracted significant national attention given Paxton’s high-profile legal challenges against the Biden administration. Paxton has sued the administration on a variety of national policies, particularly immigration matters, and also led the lawsuit, Texas v. Pennsylvania, which was the primary challenge to the results of the 2020 presidential election considered by the Supreme Court.
The process has been complicated by the fact that Paxton’s wife, Angela Paxton, is a Republican state senator with the power to vote on his impeachment, with some allegations concerning his extramarital affairs. She will not vote on the charges but will be present for the trial, with her potential absence lowering the two-thirds threshold required to convict.
“Unable to defeat the Attorney General at the polls, the architects of the present impeachment caused the House to quickly file and pass twenty Articles of Impeachment—in a mere three days. The allegations making up the Articles contain unsupported, vague, and irrelevant assertions of non-impeachable conduct,” a spokesperson for Paxton told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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