Texas Wants to Know

Texas Wants to Know: Why Ken Paxton was impeached and what to watch for during his trial

The impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton begins Tuesday. This week, Texas Wants to Know breaks down the articles filed against him and what to expect when the trial starts.

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When the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton begins on Tuesday, it will be the first in the state since 1917, when the House impeached Gov. James Ferguson.

The 20 articles of impeachment filed against Paxton range from accusations of bribery to using his office to influence his own trial.

"What the House decided to do is once they were going to go after the attorney general, they decided to go all in and they brought everything but the kitchen sink," Rice University political science professor Mark Jones said.

Of the 20 articles the House filed, one seemed to be the tipping point: a request for $3.3 million to settle a whistleblower suit that came from within Paxton's office.

"I think the bottom line is, is for the legislature, they just felt the money should not come from the taxpayers," Bloomberg News Texas bureau chief Julie Fine said. "Whether it was a campaign account they thought it should come from or any other source. I think a lot of Republican legislators and Democrats said on the record, this is not where taxpayer money should be going."

While Texas senators will serve as jurors, Jones said there are also political implications to any outcome.

"The Republican base, primary voters, still is very supportive of Paxton," he said. "On the other hand, for a lot of these senators, they've wanted to get rid of Ken Paxton for years."

Republicans have controlled each branch of the Texas government for more than two decades. Lauren McGaughy, an Austin-based investigative reporter for The Dallas Morning News, says the House's decision to impeach Paxon puts a disagreement on display.

"For at least 10 years, there's been a lot of infighting in the Republican Party about direction and tactics and all that," she said. "And I think this Paxton impeachment is laying bare the disagreement in the party yet again."

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