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Ken Paxton acquitted in impeachment trial

The Texas Senate voted to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton was accused of bribery, misconduct of office and destruction of justice. 

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Saturday, the Texas Senate voted to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton on all 16 articles of impeachment. Paxton was accused of bribery, misconduct of office and destruction of justice. 

None of the articles received more than 14 out of the 21 votes needed to convict. 

Only two Republican state senators, Sen. Bob Nichols of Jacksonville and Sen. Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills voted to convict. A direct contrast to the 70% of House Republicans who voted to impeach Paxton in May. 

Top officials at the attorney general’s office went to the FBI alleging that Paxton had accepted bribes from his friend, Austin real estate developer Nate Paul 

“Paul was involved in legal cases with business rivals and wanted the attorney general’s office to investigate both his business rivals as well as federal law enforcement for conducting what he claimed was an illegal raid,” said assistant political science professor Michael Kistner.  “Paxton’s office did hire a special prosecutor who filed subpoenas against some of Paul’s rivals.”

The whistleblowers claimed Paxton had home renovations completed and paid for by Paul and that the Austin real estate developer hired a woman whom the attorney general was having an affair with. 

After the whistleblowers were let go from the attorney general’s office, they filed a suit for wrongful termination. 

In February, the whistleblowers won their lawsuit and Paxton was ordered to pay $3.3 million. Controversy erupted after Paxton attempted to fund the settlement with taxpayer dollars, which required the approval of the Texas Legislature, Kistner said. 

“The Texas House opened an investigation into all of this misconduct — being asked to approve millions of dollars to pay for Paxton’s office is what sets off the impeachment efforts,” Kistner said. 

The historic trail spanned two weeks and the state House brought almost 4,000 pages of evidence. 

Paxton, who had been suspended from office since the state House voted to impeach him in May, will return to the attorney general’s office. 

Paxton still faces a federal investigation into the same bribery allegations that led to his impeachment. A felony case regarding securities fraud charges he has been dogging since 2015 and a disciplinary proceeding due to his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. 

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