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A look at the 20 articles of impeachment against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Sep 4, 2023, 9:25 PM

Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton makes a statement at his office in Austin, Texas, Friday, M...

Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton makes a statement at his office in Austin, Texas, Friday, May 26, 2023. he Texas Senate is set to gavel in Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023, for the impeachment trial of Paxton, a formal airing of corruption allegations that could lead Republican lawmakers to oust one of their own as lead lawyer for America's largest red state. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton faces an impeachment trial in the state Senate starting Tuesday on articles overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives.

Paxton, a Republican and star of the conservatives legal movement, was suspended from office in May when the GOP-controlled House voted 121-23 to impeach him on 20 articles ranging from bribery to abuse of public trust. Most of the articles deal with Paxton using his office to benefit a wealthy donor, Nate Paul, prompting eight of the attorney general’s top deputies to report him to the FBI in 2020.

Three other charges date back to Paxton’s pending 2015 felony securities fraud case, including lying to state investigators. The Senate is not immediately taking up those charges and a fourth related to Paxton’s ethics filings in the impeachment trial.

Paxton has said he expects to be acquitted and that the charges are based on “hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims.”

Here’s look at the 20 articles of impeachment:

DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY

ARTICLE 1 – Protection of charitable organization

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 the 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 foreclosure. 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 records 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.

DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY

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 whistleblower law by retaliating against employees who reported his alleged 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’ whistleblower complaints and publish a report containing false or misleading statements in Paxton’s defense.

DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY

ARTICLE 8 – Settlement Agreement

Paxton is accused of misusing his official powers by concealing his wrongful acts in connection with the whistleblower’s complaints by entering into a settlement with the whistleblowers that provides for payment from public funds. The settlement halted the wrongful termination suit and delayed the discovery of facts and testimony at trial, to Paxton’s advantage. That allegedly prevented voters from making an informed decision about his reelection in 2022.

CONSTITUTIONAL BRIBERY

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 with protracted delay of that trial, preventing voters from making an informed decision about his election. The Senate is not, at least initially, taking up this article in Paxton’s impeachment trial.

ARTICLE 12 – Abuse of judicial process

It is alleged that Paxton benefited from donor Jeff Blackard’s lawsuit that interfered with 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.

The Senate is not, at least initially, taking up this article in Paxton’s impeachment trial.

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.

The Senate is not, at least initially, taking up this article in Paxton’s impeachment trial.

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.

The Senate is not, at least initially, taking up this article in Paxton’s impeachment trial.

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 whistleblower 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.

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A look at the 20 articles of impeachment against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton