State Senator Drew Springer (R-Muenster) has written a letter to Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and his fellow senators seeking a way to reopen the impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Springer’s district covers portions of Parker County.
The Texas House of Representatives voted in May to impeach Paxton, eventually filing 20 articles of impeachment following an investigation. The investigation was spurred when Paxton requested that the state pay for his settlement of a lawsuit from three “whistleblowers” who claimed they were improperly fired after calling attention to alleged corruption in the AG office.
The impeachment trial was held in September, ultimately resulting in acquittal on all 30 counts.
Springer said there is now reason to question that acquittal.
“While I voted to hear the evidence against and ultimately acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton during the Senate court of impeachment, based on the evidence and the record at the time, I believed that was the right thing to do,” Springer said in his letter. “However, recent developments have made me question whether AG Paxton and his legal team misled the Senate.”
Springer’s misgivings sprung from Paxton’s amended filing in the whistleblower suit in January.
Paxton essentially said he would accept the facts of the whistleblower suit and accept whatever judgement the court rendered. By doing so, Paxton would have avoided having to provide a deposition under oath.
The trial judge ordered Paxton to provide a deposition on Feb. 1, but that order was overridden by the Texas Supreme Court, which blocked the depositions and gave parties until Feb. 29 to provide broader legal arguments.
Springer, like the whistleblowers who filed the lawsuit, feel Paxton is trying to have it both ways.
“While AG Paxton claims this decision is not an admission of guilt, the fact of the matter is it is an admission of guilt,” Springer said. “He can't accept the whistleblower's claims against him while touting that he's innocent against those very claims. This admission by AG Paxton is exceptionally concerning as he admitted to violating at least one - and potentially more - of the articles of impeachment. Specifically, Article 6, which addressed AG Paxton's violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act. Accordingly, AG Paxton completely changed his position in less than four months.”
In addition, Springer said Paxton had essentially written a “blank check” at taxpayers’ expense to stop the case and prevent his deposition.
“At this stage, and the point of this letter, I am asking the Senate whether there is a legal mechanism to reopen the impeachment proceedings. Failure to at least consider this possibility runs the risk of AG Paxton making a mockery of the Texas Senate,” Springer said.
Springer is not running for re-election, so his term ends in January of 2023.
“Finally, if I am asked to support funding of any judgment in this case before my retirement - in light of AG Paxton's complete reversal - the Texas Legislature deserves a complete record,” Springer said. “That record must include AG Paxton answering questions under oath so that the Legislature may determine whether to fund any judgment in this case. He should not be allowed to enter into a judgment at taxpayers' expense to make this matter go away for his own personal and political benefit. AG Paxton has spent more time fighting the deposition than it would have taken him to answer questions truthfully.”
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