Ken Paxton's lawyers seek to dismiss 19 of 20 articles of impeachment

ByRobert Downen, The Texas Tribune KTRK logo
Monday, July 31, 2023
Suspended AG Ken Paxton raises money as he fights 'Kangaroo Court'
Ken Paxton's $1.7 million in funds was donated after impeachment charges, a new filing revealed as the suspended attorney general's trial approaches.

Lawyers for suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton requested Monday that all but one of 20 articles of impeachment be dismissed, arguing his removal would "override the will of the people" who elected him with knowledge of his alleged misconduct.

The video above is from a previous report on July 18, 2023, outlining donations made to Paxton ahead of the trial.

In a separate court filing, Paxton's team also requested that his impeachment trial before the Texas Senate exclude any evidence of "any alleged conduct" that occurred prior to January 2023, when his third term in office began.

The second filing - which comes as all parties are under a strict gag order barring public comment on the proceedings and evidence - also blasted the House impeachment managers as "aggressive, reckless and misleading" with "little to no evidence whatsoever" to support the allegations against Paxton.

In their motion to dismiss, Paxton's lawyers argued that almost all of the allegations outlined by House investigators were known to voters at the time of his most recent election, and that his impeachment would thus negate the will of Texas voters.

They also argued that Paxton's impeachment would run afoul of the "prior-term doctrine," which they said bars statewide officials from being impeached for conduct that predates their most recent election.

"With only a single exception, the articles (of impeachment) allege nothing that Texas voters have not heard from the Attorney General's political opponents for years," Paxton's team wrote. "The alleged acts underlying 19 of the Articles took place before the Attorney General's most recent election and were highly publicized."

If approved, the remaining article against Paxton would be related to the $3.3 million lawsuit settlement he reached with whistleblowers who were fired from his office after reporting Paxton to law enforcement for bribery and other alleged wrongdoing. The House's investigation into Paxton began earlier this year, after he asked the Legislature to pay for the lawsuit settlement.

Paxton's impeachment trial before Texas senators is set to begin Sept. 5.

Under rules previously adopted by the Senate, rulings on pretrial motions are expected to be made on the opening day of trial before opening statements. Approval of two-thirds of senators is required to dismiss an article of impeachment.

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