The Texas House General Investigating Committee voted unanimously on Thursday in favor of 20 articles of impeachment against the state’s attorney general. A vote on the floor of the Texas House to impeach Ken Paxton could occur by the weekend and would result, if approved by a majority vote, in his suspension as attorney general pending a trial in the Texas Senate.
The General Investigating Committee, composed of three Republicans and two Democrats voted unanimously to refer 20 articles of impeachment (attached below) to the House of Representatives for a vote on the floor, the Texas Tribune reported. The articles include allegations that include the misapplication of public resources, bribery, and obstruction of justice.
Members of the committee include Chairman Andrew Murr (R-Kerrville), Rep. Ann Johnson (D-Houston), Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), Rep. Oscar Longoria (D-Mission), and Rep. David Spiller (R-Jacksboro).
The committee spent months looking into allegations against Attorney General Paxton, Fox 26 Houston reported.
Paxton responded to the vote by the committee and called it a political attack by the House’s “liberal” Republican Speaker Dade Phelan. “It’s is a sad day for Texas as we witness the corrupt political establishment unite in this illegitimate attempt to overthrow the will of the people and disenfranchise the voters of our state,” Paxton said in an official statement Thursday.
Chairman Murr said he did not have a timeline for when the House may consider the 20 articles of impeachment. Texas Capitol insiders say the vote could take place by Saturday.
The Texas Constitution differs significantly from the Constitution of the United States on procedures and consequences for impeachment. Like the federal impeachment process, a simple majority vote by the Texas House would impeach the attorney general. However, unlike the federal system, under the Texas Constitution, the AG would immediately be suspended from office pending a trial in the Texas Senate.
If the House voted in favor of impeachment, Governor Greg Abbott would be allowed to “make a provisional appointment to fill the vacancy.”
The Texas House is currently composed of 86 Republicans and 64 Democrats.
If the House delivers articles of impeachment to the Senate, the Senate “shall be convened to consider the articles of impeachment,” according to Chapter 665 of the Texas Government Code.
“Each senator shall be in attendance when the senate is meeting as a court of impeachment,” the code states.
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick told WFAA ABC 8 on Thursday night, “I don’t cast a vote. The 31 members cast a vote. I preside over it.”
“But we will all be responsible as any juror would be if that turns out to be and I think the members will do their duty,” Patrick stated.
A two-thirds vote of the Texas Senate would be required to find Paxton guilty and officially remove him from office.
The Texas Senate is currently composed of 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
Paxton is currently serving in his third term as Attorney General of the State of Texas.
While the 88th Session of the Texas Legislature is about to come to an end, the Texas Constitution allows both chambers to remain in session to carry out their roles in the process. If the Legislature adjourns, there are multiple avenues available to call the Legislature back into session to vote on impeachment and conduct the trial.
HR02377I — Article of Impeachment Against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton as voted out by the House General Investigating Committee.