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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could face impeachment

A bipartisan, Republican-led committee in the Texas House of Representatives voted Thursday to recommend impeaching embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton, setting the stage for lawmakers to potentially oust the state official.

The vote by the Committee on General Investigating came a day after committee investigators testified about the findings of their months-long probe into Paxton’s alleged misconduct.

Representatives for Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The office shared on social media a video of one of its staffers calling the probe inaccurate and questioning the legality of the committee’s recommendation.

It was unclear when the House would take up a potential vote on impeaching Paxton. A spokesperson for House Speaker Dade Phelan — a Republican with whom Paxton has feuded — referred the question on House votes to the committee. Logan Harrison, a spokesman for the investigating panel, said the vote by the House on articles of impeachment is expected soon, though he did not provide a date. The legislative session is scheduled to end Monday.

In the 150-member House, where Republicans hold 85 seats, a simple majority is required to send articles of impeachment to the state Senate, Harrison said. In the Senate, Harrison explained, Paxton could be impeached and removed by a vote of two-thirds of the senators present. Republicans hold 19 of the Senate’s 31 seats; Democrats hold the remainder.

Investigators for the committee on Wednesday said Paxton abused his official capacity, misused official information and retaliated against whistleblowers who had accused him of corruption in October 2020. Paxton settled the corruption lawsuit with four former aides in February for $3.3 million — a sum Paxton had sought to pay using taxpayer funds.

But the Texas legislature balked at using public funds to pay that settlement.

The investigators said Paxton had pressured the open records division in his office to help a donor and friend, Nate Paul, in his legal fight with a nonprofit group in Austin. In exchange for that help, investigators said, Paul helped with a “floor-to-ceiling renovation” at Paxton’s home and employed a woman with whom Paxton allegedly had an extramarital affair.

The investigators also concluded Paxton wrongly fired several former staffers who reported his inappropriate behavior to authorities.

Paxton has been under felony indictment for securities fraud since 2015, the year he became attorney general. The FBI opened an investigation into Paxton in November 2020 on allegations he used his office to benefit a wealthy donor, the Associated Press reported.

In September 2022, a Texas judge ordered Paxton to sit for a deposition about accusations of securities fraud. Despite the indictment and litany of investigations, Texas voters elected Paxton to a third term as attorney general in 2022.

The same House committee recommended lawmakers expel Rep. Bryan Slaton earlier this month after investigating sexual misconduct allegations made against him by a 19-year-old aide. Slaton resigned his seat a day before the House voted 147-0 to expel him.

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