A Republican-controlled Texas House committee filed 20 articles of impeachment against GOP attorney-general Ken Paxton, ranging from bribery to abuse of public trust, and he was suspended from office Saturday after the chamber voted to impeach.
The allegations include attempts to interfere in foreclosure lawsuits, improperly issuing legal opinions to benefit real estate developer Nate Paul, and firing, harassing and interfering with whistleblowers on Paxton’s staff. Bribery charges stem from Paul allegedly employing a woman with whom Paxton had an affair in exchange for legal help and Paul allegedly paid for renovations to Paxton’s home. Other charges date back to Paxton’s pending 2015 felony securities fraud case, including lying to state investigators.
Paxton has said the charges are based on “hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims.”
Here’s a look at the 20 articles of impeachment:
DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY
ARTICLE 1 – Protection of charitable organizations
Paxton is accused of failing to act as a public protector of charitable organizations by directing his employees in the attorney-general’s office to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the Roy F. & JoAnn Cole Mitte Foundation against entities controlled by Paul, harming the Austin charity in an effort to benefit Paul, a wealthy donor.
ARTICLE 2 – Abuse of the opinion process
Paxton is accused of misusing his official power to issue written legal opinions. He allegedly had employees prepare an opinion that protected some of Paul’s properties from being sold in foreclosures. Paxton concealed his actions by asking a Senate committee chairperson to seek that opinion. He’s also accused of directing employees to reverse their legal conclusion to help Paul.
ARTICLE 3 – Abuse of the open records process
Paxton is accused of misusing his official power by allegedly interfering with his office’s handling of a public record request dealing with the files of a criminal investigation into Paul.
ARTICLE 4 – Misuse of official information
Paxton is accused of misusing his power to administer public information law by improperly obtaining previously undisclosed information held by the attorney-general’s office to benefit Paul.
ARTICLE 5 – Engagement of Cammack
Paxton is accused of misusing official powers by hiring attorney Brandon Cammack to investigate a baseless complaint made by Paul. That led to Cammack issuing more than 30 grand jury subpoenas in an effort to help Paul.
ARTICLE 6 – Termination of whistleblowers
Paxton is accused of violating the state’s whistle-blower law by retaliating against employees who reported his allegations of unlawful acts to law enforcement, terminating them without good cause or due process. He’s also accused of engaging in a public and private campaign to impugn those employees’ professional reputations or prejudice their future employment.
MISAPPLICATION OF PUBLIC RESOURCES
ARTICLE 7 – Whistleblower investigation and report
Paxton is accused of misusing public resources by directing employees to conduct a sham investigation into terminated employees’ whistle-blower complaints and publishing a report containing false or misleading statements in Paxton’s defense.
DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY
ARTICLE 8 – Settlement Agreements
Paxton is accused of misusing his official powers by concealing his wrongful acts in connection with the whistle-blower’s complaints by entering into a settlement with the whistle-blowers that provide for payments from public funds. The settlement halted the wrongful termination of the suit and delayed the discovery of facts and testimony at trial, to Paxton’s advantage. That apparently prevented voters from making an informed decision about his re-election in 2022.
ARTICLE 9 – Paul’s employment of a woman with whom Paxton has acknowledged having an affair
It is alleged that Paxton benefited from Paul’s decision to hire the woman. In exchange, Paul allegedly received favorable legal assistance from, or specialized access to, the attorney-general’s office.
ARTICLE 10 – Paul’s providing renovations to Paxton home
It is alleged that in exchange for providing the renovations, Paul received favorable legal assistance from, or specialized access to, the attorney-general’s office.
OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
ARTICLE 11 – Abuse of judicial process
Paxton is accused of abusing the process to thwart justice in the securities fraud case against him. It is alleged that Paxton concealed facts from voters by protracted delay of that trial, preventing voters from making an informed decision about his election.
ARTICLE 12 – Abuse of judicial process
It is alleged that Paxton benefited from donor Jeff Blackard’s lawsuit that interfered with the payment of the prosecutors in Paxton’s securities fraud case. That allegedly delayed the case, including discovery of facts and testimony at trial, and deprived voters of a chance to make an informed decision when voting for attorney-general.
FALSE STATEMENTS IN OFFICIAL RECORDS
ARTICLE 13 – State Securities Board investigation
Paxton is accused of making false statements to the State Securities Board in connection with its investigation of his failure to register with the board as an investment adviser required by state law.
ARTICLE 14- Personal financial statements
Paxton is accused of failing to fully and accurately disclose financial interests in his financial statements filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.
ARTICLE 15 – Whistleblower response report
It is alleged that Paxton made or caused to be made multiple false or misleading statements in the lengthy written report issued by his office in response to whistle-blower allegations.
ARTICLE 16 – Conspiracy and attempted conspiracy
Paxton is accused of conspiring or attempting to conspire with others to commit acts described in one or more articles.
ARTICLE 17 – Misappropriation of public resources
Paxton is accused of misusing his official powers by causing employees to perform services for his benefit and the benefit of others.
ARTICLE 18 – Dereliction of duty
Paxton is accused of violating the Texas Constitution, his oaths of office, statutes and public policy against public officials acting contrary to the public interest by engaging in acts described in one or more articles.
ARTICLE 19 – Unfitness for office
Paxton is accused of engaging in misconduct, private or public, of such character as to indicate his unfitness for office, as shown by the acts described in one or more articles.
ARTICLE 20 – Abuse of public trust
Paxton is accused of using, misusing or failing to use official powers to subvert the lawful operation of the state government and obstruct the fair and impartial administration of justice, bringing the attorney-general’s office into scandal and eroding public confidence in state government, as shown by the acts described in one or more articles.