Affair Will Be Central to Paxton's Impeachment Trial

Texas attorney general allegedly accepted bribes from developer who hired his girlfriend
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2023 8:24 AM CDT
Affair Will Be Central to Paxton's Impeachment Trial
Jane Ane Sellars of Frisco, Texas, stands in line up outside the Texas State Capital waiting for doors to open in Austin, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton faces impeachment by the state Senate in a trial that will largely focus on an extramarital affair. As the Texas Tribune reports, the trial beginning Tuesday and expected to last two to three weeks "could air out the sordid details of the staunch, Christian conservative's life as he sits just yards away from his wife, and her 30 Senate colleagues who will serve as jurors to decide her husband's fate."

  • What's at stake: Paxton was suspended from office in late May after the GOP-run House of Representatives voted 121-23 to impeach him. If the state Senate follows suit, Paxton will be permanently removed from office. The state Senate would also vote on whether to bar him from holding office.
  • The charges: Paxton faces 20 articles of impeachment relating to alleged bribery, abuse of public trust, obstruction of justice, and whistleblower retaliation. House impeachment managers will make the case that Paxton "went to great, impeachable—and potentially criminal—lengths" to conceal the affair from his wife and from Christian conservative voters, per the Tribune.

  • The affair: In September 2018, state Sen. Angela Paxton accompanied her husband as he told staffers about the affair and vowed to end it. But in June 2020, Paxton allegedly arranged for his girlfriend to move to Austin to be closer to him. She took at a job with Paxton donor and real estate investor Nate Paul, who claims he hired to her on Paxton's recommendation.
  • Nate Paul: According to deputies, Ken Paxton then began working to assist Paul with his legal issues. (Paul was indicted in June on eight federal felony charges related to falsifying financial records.) Paxton "allegedly provided Paul with sensitive information about an FBI raid on Paul's businesses and home, told staff not to assist law enforcement investigating Paul" and hired an outside attorney "to investigate Paul's adversaries," per the Tribune.
  • The alleged bribes: Paul continued helping Paxton, too. He allegedly footed the bill for Paxton and his girlfriend to stay at a resort while Paxton's home was being remodeled, and supplied $20,000 in countertop materials to be used in the remodel, per CNN and the Tribune. The two men also shared a secret Uber account which they used to meet up and Paxton allegedly used to visit his girlfriend.

  • The fallout: By the fall of 2020, Paxton's deputies notified law enforcement that he was accepting bribes. Paxton fired the deputies, then requested $3.3 million in state funds to settle a lawsuit they'd filed against him. That move became the basis of impeachment articles in the House.
  • 'Friendlier ground': The state Senate is "friendlier ground" for Paxton, who "has a number of conservative allies there—including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who will preside over the trial," per the Tribune. "Hard-right billionaires" have also been funding a campaign to sway Republicans to acquit Paxton, likening the campaign against him to a "political witch hunt," per the New York Times.
  • Potential witnesses: There are more than 100, including Paxton, Paul, Paxton's former deputies, and his girlfriend, named as Laura Olson, per NBC News. However, Paxton's attorneys have said the attorney general will not testify.
  • The defense: Lead attorney Tony Buzbee adds "the two special prosecutors who were handed a blank check at taxpayers' expense to find Ken Paxton's bribe can't locate one—because it never happened," per NBC. A conviction would require 21 of the 30 voting jurors (12 Democrats and 18 Republicans) to vote against Paxton. Angela Paxton will not get a vote, but she is permitted to sit in on the trial.
(More Ken Paxton stories.)

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