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Breaking: Paxton Acquitted on All Counts

The Texas Senate acquitted Ken Paxton today in his impeachment trial on 16 articles of impeachment – another four articles were held in abeyance and dismissed without a hearing. The Texas House impeachment articles included accusations of bribery, dereliction of duty, disregard of official duty and obstruction of justice.

Conviction would have required a vote of 21 of the 31 senate seats. State Sen. Angela Paxton, wife of Ken Paxton, was present but barred from voting. None of the articles generated more than 14 votes for conviction.

The articles and votes are as listed.

Articles of Impeachment

Article 1, disregard of official duty

Paxton violated the duties of his office by failing to protect a charitable organization by directing employees to intervene in a lawsuit between the nonprofit Mitte Foundation and Austin real estate investor Nate Paul, a Paxton friend and political donor. “Paxton harmed the Mitte Foundation in an effort to benefit Paul,” the resolution said.

Acquitted 14-16

Article 2, disregard of official duty

Paxton misused his official power to issue written legal opinions to help Paul avoid foreclosure sales of properties owned by Paul and his businesses.​​ Paxton concealed his actions by soliciting state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, to seek the attorney general’s opinion as a “straw requestor,” the resolution said, adding that Paxton also directed employees to reverse their legal conclusions in ways that helped Paul.

Acquitted 14-16

Article 3, disregard of official duty

Paxton misused his official power to administer the state’s public information laws by directing employees to act contrary to the law on an open records request for Department of Public Safety documents and in another unspecified case.

Acquitted 14-16

Article 4, disregard of official duty

Paxton misused his power to administer public information laws to obtain previously undisclosed information held by his office “for the purpose of providing the information to the benefit of Nate Paul,” the resolution said.

Acquitted 28-2

Article 5, disregard of official duty

Paxton misused his official powers by violating the laws regarding how outside attorneys should be appointed. Paxton hired Brandon Cammack, a lawyer of five years, to investigate a “baseless complaint” made by Paul, who had accused federal and state investigators of improperly searching his home and businesses. Cammack responded by issuing 30 grand jury subpoenas in an effort to help Paul, the resolution said.

Acquitted 13-17

Article 6, disregard of official duty

Paxton violated his duties of office by firing or retaliating against employees in violation of the Texas Whistleblowers Act, which protects public employees who make good-faith reports of potentially illegal action to law enforcement.

“Paxton terminated the employees without good cause or due process and in retaliation for reporting his illegal acts and improper conduct,” the resolution said. “Furthermore, Paxton engaged in a public and private campaign to impugn the employees’ professional reputations or prejudice their future employment.”

Acquitted 14-16

Article 7, misapplication of public resources

Paxton misused public resources by directing employees to conduct a “sham investigation” into the whistleblowers’ complaints, leading the attorney general’s office to publish “a lengthy written report containing false or misleading statements in Paxton’s defense.” In August 2021, the attorney general’s office issued an unsigned, 374-page internal report clearing him of wrongdoing in the allegations made by the fired employees.

Acquitted 14-16

Article 8, disregard of official duty

Paxton misused his official powers by “concealing his wrongful acts in connection with the whistleblower complaints.” To settle the whistleblowers’ lawsuit, Paxton agreed to pay them $3.3 million from public funds. The agreement “conspicuously delayed the discovery of facts and testimony at trial, to Paxton’s advantage” and deprived voters of the opportunity to make an informed decision in the 2022 election for attorney general, the resolution said.

Acquitted 8-22

Article 9, constitutional bribery

Paxton engaged in bribery in violation of Article 16 of the Texas Constitution when he benefited from Paul’s decision to employ a woman “with whom Paxton was having an extramarital affair.”

“Paul received favorable legal assistance from, or specialized access to, the office of the attorney general,” the resolution said.

Acquitted 12-18

Article 10, constitutional bribery

Paxton engaged in bribery in violation of Article 16 of the Texas Constitution when Paul provided extensive renovations to Paxton’s Austin home. In return, Paul received favorable legal help from Paxton’s agency.

Acquitted 14-16

Article 15, false statements in official records

Paxton made, or caused others to make, multiple false or misleading statements in his office’s response to the whistleblowers’ claims in an effort to mislead the public and public officials. In August 2021, the attorney general’s office issued an unsigned, 374-page internal report clearing him of wrongdoing in the allegations made by the fired employees.

Acquitted 14-16

Article 16, conspiracy and attempted conspiracy

While in office, Paxton acted with others to conspire, or attempt to conspire, to commit the crimes described in the other articles.

Acquitted 14-16

Article 17, misappropriation of public resources 

Paxton misused his official powers by causing employees to perform services for his benefit and the benefit of others.The committee’s investigators said Paxton had diverted employees to perform work that benefited Paul, costing the state at least $72,000 in taxpayer-funded labor. He also hired Cammack for $25,000.

Acquitted 14-16

Article 18, dereliction of duty

Paxton violated the Texas Constitution, his oaths of office, plus statutes and public policy against public officials acting against the public interest.

Acquitted 14-16

Article 19, unfitness for office

Paxton engaged in private and public misconduct, described in the articles, that “indicate his unfitness for office,” the resolution said.

Acquitted 14-16

Article 20, abuse of public trust

Paxton subverted the lawful operation of Texas government by using, misusing or failing to use his official powers and obstructed the fair and impartial administration of justice, bringing the attorney general’s office “into scandal and disrepute,” which harmed the public’s confidence in the state’s government.

Acquitted 14-16

These four articles were held in abeyance:

  • Article 11, obstruction of justice — Paxton abused the judicial process to thwart justice by causing “protracted” delays after a Collin County grand jury indicted him for securities fraud for soliciting investors in Servergy Inc. without disclosing that the McKinney tech company was paying him to round up investors. Those delays “deprived the electorate of its opportunity to make an informed decision when voting for attorney general,” the resolution said.
  • Article 12, obstruction of justice — Paxton abused the judicial process to thwart justice when Jeff Blackard, a donor to his campaigns, took legal action that “disrupted payment of the prosecutors” in the securities fraud case against him, causing a protracted delay in the case.
  • Article 13, false statements in official records — Before and after holding public office, Paxton made false statements to mislead the public and public officials by lying to the State Securities Board during its investigation of Paxton’s failure to register as an investment adviser as required by state law.
  • Article 14, false statements in official records — Before and during his time in office, Paxton made false statements on personal finance statements required by Texas law by failing to “fully and accurately disclose his financial interests” on disclosure forms.

Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson
Writer, editor, photographer and editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson has joined the Reform Austin newsroom, where he will employ the artistic skill and political insights that earned a Pulitzer Prize to drive coverage of Texas government. As managing editor, Anderson is responsible for guiding Reform Austin’s efforts to give readers the unfiltered facts they need to hold Texas leaders accountable. Anderson’s original cartoons will be a regular feature on RA News. “Reform Austin readers understand the consequences of electing politicians who use ideological agendas to divide us, when they should be doing the hard work necessary to make our state government work for everyone,” Anderson said. “As a veteran journalist, I’m excited about Reform Austin’s potential to re-focus conversations on the issues that matter to common-sense Texans – like protecting our neighborhoods from increasingly common disasters, healthcare, just to name a few.” Anderson worked for the Houston Chronicle, the largest newspaper in Texas, from 2006 until 2017. In addition to the Pulitzer, Anderson earned the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award. He’s also a two-time winner of Columbia College’s Fischetti Award, and the National Press Foundation’s Berryman Award. Anderson’s cartoons have been published in Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and other papers. In 2005, Anderson won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning while working for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. The judges complimented his “unusual graphic style that produced extraordinarily thoughtful and powerful messages.”

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