Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted of all charges in a long-awaited impeachment trial vote Saturday morning. The Republican-controlled State Senate, which acts as the jury in impeachment trials, voted almost entirely along party lines on most of the counts. Paxton would have been the first statewide office holder in Texas to face such a fate since 1917, when Governor James “Pa” Ferguson was impeached and resigned a day before he could be convicted by the Senate.
Real estate played a central role in the case. Austin real estate investor Nate Paul was named in several of the impeachment charges, which alleged that Paxton took a range of improper actions to help Paul.
In particular, Paxton was accused of accepting bribes from Paul in the form of a large campaign contribution, free home renovations and free Uber rides. Impeachment managers also accused Paul of hiring Paxton’s mistress so she could stay in Austin, closer to the attorney general’s home than where she lived in San Antonio. In return, Paxton’s office was accused of delivering a legal opinion designed to help Paul avoid foreclosures on several of his properties, and helping Paul access information about the FBI raid on his home and office in 2019.
During the trial, several shocking details were revealed about Paul and Paxton’s relationship. Aides testified that Paxton harangued his staff for not pursuing Paul’s allegations of corruption and unfair treatment by the FBI, even after their repeated pleas that he stay away from Paul. The pair met for lunches in which even Paxton’s body man was prevented from sitting with them. And Paxton allegedly pressured his employees to get involved in a lawsuit between Paul and a nonprofit, the Mitte Foundation, intervening to a degree they said was highly unusual for him.
To remove Paxton from office, 21 of the 30 senators would have had to vote to convict him on any of the charges. None of the votes, however, even reached a majority to convict.
Paul, meanwhile, has already been indicted by the FBI on eight counts of lying to lenders in order to obtain financing. He did not appear at Paxton’s trial, and has been out on bail since his arrest in June. His trial will not begin until next year due to the huge volume of evidence to be reviewed.