AUSTIN (KXAN) — Late Thursday night, lawmakers received their copies of 20 articles of impeachment. Chairman Andrew Murr said he will put the articles to a vote on Saturday, May 27, at 1:00 pm.
The House General Investigating Committee, which has a conservative majority, presented the articles after adopting a formal recommendation that Attorney General Ken Paxton be impeached and removed from office.
The committee has been quietly investigating Paxton since March, following a proposal of his emerged to use state funds to settle a $3.3 million whistleblower lawsuit filed by four former employees who accused Paxton of wrongdoing.
Per HR 2377, here are 20 accusations the committee found in their investigation:
Favors for wealthy donor
Article 1 accuses Paxton of violating his duties by harming a charitable organization to help a donor, Nate Paul, a wealthy Austin real estate developer.
The Attorney General is tasked with protecting charitable organizations when they face lawsuits. The article asserts Paxton improperly intervened in litigation involving Paxton’s donor, Nate Paul, and a charity called the Mitte Foundation.
“Paxton harmed the Mitte Foundation in an effort to benefit Paul,” the resolution states.
Article 2 concerns another favor lawmakers asserted Paxton did for Paul. It explains Paxton issued a legal opinion to prevent the foreclosure of some of Paul’s properties, in contradiction of his employees’ original legal opinion.
Article 3 asserts Paxton issued illegal rulings to block public information requests concerning records within the Department of Public Safety related to Paul.
Article 4 again implicates Paxton’s relationship with Nate Paul, asserting Paxton misused his official power to improperly obtain private information and divulge records to Paul.
“Specifically, Paxton improperly obtained access to information held by his office that had not been publicly disclosed for the purpose of providing the information to the benefit of Nate Paul,” the resolution states.
Article 5 claims Paxton improperly hired a special prosecutor to benefit Paul. Paxton hired attorney Brandon Cammack to investigate a complaint on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office and in service to Nate Paul. The committee asserts Paxton did not have the authority to hand-pick a special prosecutor to conduct state business and Cammack was unqualified to act as a prosecutor on behalf of the Attorney General.
Retaliating against whistleblowers
Article 6 accuses Paxton of taking “adverse personnel action” against employees who raised public ethical complaints against him.
“Paxton terminated employees of his office who made good faith reports of his unlawful actions to law enforcement authorities,” the resolution reads, asserting his actions were in violation of state law protecting whistleblowers.
Article 7 accuses Paxton of misusing records to conduct a “sham investigation” into the whistleblower complaints and publish a report “containing false or misleading statements in Paxton’s defense,” per the resolution.
Article 8 accuses Paxton of concealing information from the public by entering a settlement with the whistleblowers. It describes this action as a way to stall their wrongful termination lawsuit and prevent courts from discovering evidence.
“The settlement agreement stayed the wrongful termination suit and conspicuously and delayed the discovery of facts and testimony at trial, to Paxton’s advantage,” read the resolution.
This “deprived the electorate of its opportunity to make an informed decision when voting for attorney general.” Paxton was re-elected last year in the midst of his legal troubles with whistleblowers.
Bribery and extramarital affair
Article 9 accuses Paxton of accepting a bribe from donor Nate Paul. It says Paul received favorable treatment from the Attorney General in exchange for Paul’s employment of a woman “with whom Paxton was having an extramarital affair.”
Article 10 accuses Paxton of accepted bribery in the form of renovations to his home paid for by Nate Paul. In exchange, “Paul received favorable legal assistance from, or specialized access to, the office of the Attorney General,” read the resolution.
Obstruction of Justice
Article 11 accuses Paxton of using his influence as Attorney General to obstruct legal proceedings against him.
Paxton was indicted in 2015 for federal securities fraud – two felony charges of first and third-degrees. The impeachment articles assert Paxton “concealed the facts underlying his criminal charges from voters by causing a protracted delay of the trial.” This, in effect, deprived Texas voters of making an informed decision when they chose Paxton again to be the state’s Attorney General.
Article 12 accuses Paxton of further obstruction of justice. It says Paxton benefited from a lawsuit made by Jeff Blackard, one of his campaign donors. That lawsuit “disrupted payment of the prosecutors in a criminal securities fraud case against Paxton.”
The ethics committee asserted the lawsuit thwarted the trial against Paxton, delayed the discovery of evidence and, again, “deprived the electorate of its opportunity to make an informed decision when voting for attorney general.”
Articles 13 and 14 accuse Paxton of making false statements in official records to mislead public officials. They assert Paxton made false statements to the State Securities Board to cover up his failure to register with them before selling stocks. Article 14 also asserts Paxton failed to disclose financial interests to the Texas Ethics Commission, which is required by law.
Article 15 asserts Paxton made false statements in a “lengthy written report” in response to whistleblower accusations to mislead public officials and the public.
Article 16 says Paxton “acted with others to conspire, or attempt to conspire, to commit acts described in one or more articles.”
Misappropriation of public resources
Article 17 says Paxton misused his official powers by causing employees to perform services for his benefit and the benefit of others — ostensibly using the time, and thus the payment, of state employees for personal favors.
Dereliction of Duty
Article 18 asserts these offenses amount to a violation of the Texas Constitution and his oaths of office, “acting contrary to the interest of the public.”
Unfitness for Office
Article 19 asserts these offenses amount to an unfitness for office.
Abuse of Public Trust
Article 20 asserts Paxton “used, misused, or failed” to use his power for the benefit of the state, “thereby bringing the Attorney General into scandal and disrepute to the prejudice of public confidence.”
The articles end stating their “prayer,” or intention, is for Paxton to answer for these accusations in a trial in the Texas Senate “and judgments be conducted and issued in accordance with law and justice.”