There’s a deal. It’s not great. It could be worse. Here are the major provisions. At least it gives us a two-year reprieve from going through this again. And the House Knucklehead Caucus hates it. That’s some comfort.
The Texas House has impeached Texas AG Ken Paxton. You’ll remember Paxton for his lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election, his tireless efforts to keep Texas women barefoot and pregnant, and his many creative excuses for why firearm regulations “don’t work.” So it’s astonishing to me that the Republican Texas House is turning on him. The Texas Tribune explains,
Paxton had faced few political consequences for years for his many public scandals. Allegations against him included taking bribes from a real estate investor, trying to protect that same investor from legal action, abusing the powers of the office and firing staff members who reported his misconduct.
But after Paxton’s office asked lawmakers to use taxpayer dollars to pay a $3.3 million settlement to the whistleblowing staffers, the scandals proved too much for the Donald Trump-backed attorney general to shake off.
“No one person should be above the law — least not the top law enforcement officer of the state of Texas,” state Rep. David Spiller, R-Jacksboro, a member of the House Committee on General Investigating, told his House colleagues on Saturday.
“We should not ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen,” he said. “Texas is better than that.”
The impeachment charges centered on Paxton’s entanglement with Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor whose relationship with Paxton as a friend and political donor had caused several of his staff members to report him to federal authorities and prompted an FBI investigation — which Paxton allegedly refused to help law enforcement with. Paul was fined more than $180,000 and ordered to serve jail time by a state judge after he was found in contempt of court earlier this year.
“All roads lead to Nate Paul,” state Rep. Ann Johnson, a Houston Democrat and vice chair of the investigating committee, told the chamber before outlining Paxton’s yearslong relationship with his friend.
Members of the House committee that investigated Paxton said they believed he broke the law by using the agency to serve the interests of Paul, from whom he allegedly took bribes — including when the real estate developer was sued for fraud.
Now the Texas Republicans are bringing up earlier bribery incidents that had escaped their notice, in spite of their being public knowledge. For example,
And then there was the divinely-inspired donation at a local Dairy Queen.
While Paxton was serving in the Texas Legislature as a state representative a decade ago, he became affiliated with the CEO of Servergy, a McKinney-based software company that courted him as a partner. William Mapp, the firm’s founder and former CEO, had donated to Paxton’s campaign and the two decided to go into business together.
At a Dairy Queen, the CEO reportedly said that “God had directed him” to give Paxton 100,000 shares of company stock, which Paxton argued shows the stock was a gift.
“However, documents … indicate that the stock was, again, for services,” the House Committee’s report said.
The Servergy relationship became the subject of a felony securities fraud indictment in 2015 that accused Paxton of recruiting investors without disclosing his own investment in the company or attempting to confirm the company’s claims about its technology.
According to the SEC, he persuaded five people to invest $840,000 into the company. The case is still ongoing.
So asking for tax dollars to clean up one of his messes was the bridge too far. Another interesting complication is that Paxton’s wife serves in the Texas Senate and hasn’t said whether she will recuse herself. Note that one of the charges against Nate Paul is that he allegedly gave a job to a woman with whom Paxton was having an affair.
Pass the popcorn.
Update: See How Ken Paxton Went From Teflon Ken To Being Impeached By His Own Party at TPM.