Paxton Acquitted on all Counts in Impeachment Trial [UPDATED]

The Senate meets and votes in rapid fashion.
The Senate meets and votes in rapid fashion. Screenshot

Editor's Note: See below for Speaker of the House Dade Phelan's response to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's attack on how the Texas House handled its articles of impeachment.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted on all 16 articles of impeachment files against him in less than two hours of voting that began about 11:15 a.m. Saturday. Needing 21 votes to convict on any of the counts, the most votes mustered to find him guilty never rose above 14.

Following this, the Senate took another vote and voted 19-11 to dismiss the four other articles that had been held in abeyance pending Paxton's other court appearances involving securities fraud charges.

Paxton had been accused of accepting bribes from Austin real estate investor Nate Paul and of abusing his office to help his friend. He was also accused of firing the senior members of his staff who took their concerns to the FBI .

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, in remarks after the votes concluded, attacked the Texas House and how its members handled the investigation into Paxton. He called the Houston process "flawed" and said he'd like to see the rules about impeachment changed in the next Legislative session.

"This is not a partisan issue," Patrick told members. "Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this impeachment."

The result of Saturday's Senate actions is that Paxton is reinstated as attorney general.

Original Story:

At about 11:15 Saturday morning, senators sitting in the impeachment trial of suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton begin their votes, with Paxton acquitted on the first three articles of impeachment, each time by a 16-14 vote.

After several more votes, it appeared the GOP-dominated Senate was going to acquit Paxton in all articles, with the maximum number of those voting to convict on each article never getting past 14. Twenty one votes were needed to find Paxton guilty on any article.

Article 1 involved the accusation that he failed to protect charitable organizations by directing his employees to intervene in the lawsuit brought by the Mitte Foundation against entities owned by real estate investor Nate Paul, a friend and donor to Paxton.

Article 2 centered on the alleged abuse by Paxton of the AG office's opinion process by directing his office to write opinions that protected Paul's properties from being sold in foreclosure.

Only two senators voted to convict in the third article of impeachment which was the allegation that Paxton abused the open records process by interfering with a public records records request dealing with a criminal investigation into Paul.

The vote can be watched live at

The complete articles of impeachment filed against Paxton can be read here.

Update 3 p.m.:

Speaker of the Texas House Dade Phelan issued a statement in response to Patrick's attack on the House in how it handled the investigation of Paxton.

"I find it deeply concerning that after weeks of claiming he would preside over this trial in an impartial and honest manner, Lt. Governor Patrick would conclude by confessing his bias and placing his contempt for the people’s House on full display. To be clear, Patrick attacked the House for standing up against corruption. His tirade disrespects the Constitutional impeachment process afforded to us by the founders of this great state. The inescapable conclusion is that today’s outcome appears to have been orchestrated from the start, cheating the people of Texas of justice.
“This impeachment was set in motion because Ken Paxton requested millions of taxpayer dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by conservative, senior employees who Paxton himself recruited to his office. These brave individuals were willing to sacrifice their reputations and careers to fight against the misconduct they witnessed, which included abuse of power, corruption, allegations of bribery, and allowing Nate Paul to act as the de facto Attorney General of Texas.
“The House General Investigating Committee’s subsequent investigation into the merits of the settlement produced more than enough damning evidence to warrant impeachment. The impeachment process exists not to punish the offender, but to determine whether they have abused their power so egregiously that they are unfit for office and their removal is in the best interest of the state. It is unfortunate that the outcome of this process will ultimately relinquish control of the state’s top law enforcement agency to an individual who, I believe, clearly abused his power, compromised his agency and its employees, and moved mountains to protect and benefit himself.
“The Senate’s refusal to remove Ken Paxton from office is, however, not the end of this matter. Ken Paxton is the subject of multiple other lawsuits, indictments and investigations. If new facts continue to come out, those who allowed him to keep his office will have much to answer for.
“I extend my utmost thanks to the House Board of Managers and their legal team for their diligent work on this matter, and to each of the 121 House Members who bravely acted in the best interest of this state by voting to advance the articles of impeachment. It was a difficult vote to take, but not a difficult decision. And unlike others, they chose principles over politics. I stand with them in full support of their decision and recognize the sacrifices they made in the name of doing what is right. Because of them, Texans had the ability to hear the evidence in a public trial, as the founders of this great state intended.”
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing