The Texas Tribune is your source for in-depth reporting on the Ken Paxton impeachment trial. Readers make that possible. Support authoritative Texas journalism with a donation now.
The Texas House adopted 20 articles of impeachment against state Attorney General Ken Paxton in late May on a 121-23 vote, with 60 Republicans in favor as 23 opposed. Paxton was immediately suspended from office, without pay, upon approval of House Resolution 2377.
When the Senate adopted its rules for the trial, however, senators elected to hear evidence on 16 articles — holding four in abeyance that were largely related to 2015 criminal charges against Paxton for private business deals in 2011 and 2012. At the end of the trial, a majority of senators can vote to dismiss the four remaining articles, but if the motion to dismiss is rejected, the presiding officer will set a trial date on those four accusations.
With the Senate sitting as a court of impeachment beginning Monday, these 16 articles will form the basis of Paxton's trial:
Article 1, disregard of official duty
Paxton violated the duties of his office by failing to protect a charitable organization by directing employees to intervene in a lawsuit between the nonprofit Mitte Foundation and Austin real estate investor Nate Paul, a Paxton friend and political donor. “Paxton harmed the Mitte Foundation in an effort to benefit Paul,” the resolution said.
Article 2, disregard of official duty
Paxton misused his official power to issue written legal opinions to help Paul avoid foreclosure sales of properties owned by Paul and his businesses. Paxton concealed his actions by soliciting state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, to seek the attorney general’s opinion as a “straw requestor,” the resolution said, adding that Paxton also directed employees to reverse their legal conclusions in ways that helped Paul.
Article 3, disregard of official duty
Paxton misused his official power to administer the state’s public information laws by directing employees to act contrary to the law on an open records request for Department of Public Safety documents and in another unspecified case.
Article 4, disregard of official duty
Paxton misused his power to administer public information laws to obtain previously undisclosed information held by his office “for the purpose of providing the information to the benefit of Nate Paul,” the resolution said.
Article 5, disregard of official duty
Paxton misused his official powers by violating the laws regarding how outside attorneys should be appointed. Paxton hired Brandon Cammack, a lawyer of five years, to investigate a “baseless complaint” made by Paul, who had accused federal and state investigators of improperly searching his home and businesses. Cammack responded by issuing 30 grand jury subpoenas in an effort to help Paul, the resolution said.
Article 6, disregard of official duty
Paxton violated his duties of office by firing or retaliating against employees in violation of the Texas Whistleblowers Act, which protects public employees who make good-faith reports of potentially illegal action to law enforcement.
“Paxton terminated the employees without good cause or due process and in retaliation for reporting his illegal acts and improper conduct,” the resolution said. “Furthermore, Paxton engaged in a public and private campaign to impugn the employees’ professional reputations or prejudice their future employment.”
Article 7, misapplication of public resources
Paxton misused public resources by directing employees to conduct a “sham investigation” into the whistleblowers’ complaints, leading the attorney general’s office to publish “a lengthy written report containing false or misleading statements in Paxton’s defense.”
In August 2021, the attorney general’s office issued an unsigned, 374-page internal report clearing him of wrongdoing in the allegations made by the fired employees.
Article 8, disregard of official duty
Paxton misused his official powers by “concealing his wrongful acts in connection with the whistleblower complaints.” To settle the whistleblowers’ lawsuit, Paxton agreed to pay them $3.3 million from public funds. The agreement “conspicuously delayed the discovery of facts and testimony at trial, to Paxton’s advantage” and deprived voters of the opportunity to make an informed decision in the 2022 election for attorney general, the resolution said.
Article 9, constitutional bribery
Paxton engaged in bribery in violation of Article 16 of the Texas Constitution when he benefited from Paul’s decision to employ a woman “with whom Paxton was having an extramarital affair.”
“Paul received favorable legal assistance from, or specialized access to, the office of the attorney general,” the resolution said.
Article 10, constitutional bribery
Paxton engaged in bribery in violation of Article 16 of the Texas Constitution when Paul provided extensive renovations to Paxton’s Austin home. In return, Paul received favorable legal help from Paxton’s agency.
Article 15, false statements in official records
Paxton made, or caused others to make, multiple false or misleading statements in his office’s response to the whistleblowers’ claims in an effort to mislead the public and public officials. In August 2021, the attorney general’s office issued an unsigned, 374-page internal report clearing him of wrongdoing in the allegations made by the fired employees.
Article 16, conspiracy and attempted conspiracy
While in office, Paxton acted with others to conspire, or attempt to conspire, to commit the crimes described in the other articles.
Article 17, misappropriation of public resources
Paxton misused his official powers by causing employees to perform services for his benefit and the benefit of others.
The committee’s investigators said Paxton had diverted employees to perform work that benefited Paul, costing the state at least $72,000 in taxpayer-funded labor. He also hired Cammack for $25,000.
Article 18, dereliction of duty
Paxton violated the Texas Constitution, his oaths of office, plus statutes and public policy against public officials acting against the public interest.
Article 19, unfitness for office
Paxton engaged in private and public misconduct, described in the articles, that “indicate his unfitness for office,” the resolution said.
Article 20, abuse of public trust
Paxton subverted the lawful operation of Texas government by using, misusing or failing to use his official powers and obstructed the fair and impartial administration of justice, bringing the attorney general’s office “into scandal and disrepute,” which harmed the public’s confidence in the state’s government.
These four articles were held in abeyance:
- Article 11, obstruction of justice — Paxton abused the judicial process to thwart justice by causing “protracted” delays after a Collin County grand jury indicted him for securities fraud for soliciting investors in Servergy Inc. without disclosing that the McKinney tech company was paying him to round up investors. Those delays “deprived the electorate of its opportunity to make an informed decision when voting for attorney general,” the resolution said.
- Article 12, obstruction of justice — Paxton abused the judicial process to thwart justice when Jeff Blackard, a donor to his campaigns, took legal action that “disrupted payment of the prosecutors” in the securities fraud case against him, causing a protracted delay in the case.
- Article 13, false statements in official records — Before and after holding public office, Paxton made false statements to mislead the public and public officials by lying to the State Securities Board during its investigation of Paxton’s failure to register as an investment adviser as required by state law.
- Article 14, false statements in official records — Before and during his time in office, Paxton made false statements on personal finance statements required by Texas law by failing to “fully and accurately disclose his financial interests” on disclosure forms.
The Texas Tribune is answering reader questions about Ken Paxton's impeachment trial in our daily newsletter, The Brief. To share your question with us, you can fill out this form.
The full program is now LIVE for the 2023 Texas Tribune Festival, happening Sept. 21-23 in Austin. Explore the program featuring more than 100 unforgettable conversations coming to TribFest. Panel topics include the biggest 2024 races and what’s ahead, how big cities in Texas and around the country are changing, the integrity of upcoming elections and so much more. See the full program.