The Texas House of Representatives announced that it is conducting a corruption investigation into Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, shortly after Paxton called on House Speaker Dade Phelan to resign after the lawmaker was accused of being intoxicated while presiding over the chamber.
Phelan’s office announced the investigation into Paxton on Tuesday, stating that the House’s General Investigating Committee has been conducting a probe into Paxton since March over his efforts to get the Texas State Legislature to appropriate $3.3 million in taxpayer funds to settle a lawsuit between Paxton and former members of his staff, who have accused him of misconduct, according to the Texas Tribune. Phelan’s announcement came after Paxton called on him to resign for allegedly presiding over the chamber while intoxicated. (RELATED: Texas Passes Bill To Curtail Dem Cities’ Local Powers)
A video of Phelan on May 19 shows him speaking with slurred words while at the House dais, which Paxton cited as “a failure to live up to his duty to the public,” per a tweet he issued demanding Phelan’s resignation.
This is video from last night in the Texas House of Representatives where it appears that TX House Speaker Dade Phelan is either really drunk or having a stroke. pic.twitter.com/dbSG7AO30r
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 20, 2023
Paxton reached a settlement in the lawsuit in February 2023, but has struggled to get legislative support for taxpayers funding the settlement, as opposed to paying the outstanding amount out of his own pocket. A draft of the state’s budget being considered before the legislature includes a provision barring any public funds from going toward the settlement.
That lawsuit sprung from whistleblower complaints by former staff members that Paxton allegedly helped one of his campaign contributors, Nate Paul, who is a real estate developer in Austin and donated $25,000 to his attorney general campaign in 2018. They claimed that Paxton shared office documents with Paul about federal and state searches of his home, as well as issued an opinion to suspend the sale of foreclosed properties during the COVID-19 pandemic with the intent to help Paul avoid foreclosure on one of his properties, according to the lawsuit.
In return, Paul allegedly helped Paxton redesign his home and employed a woman with whom Paxton reportedly had an extramarital affair. Paxton’s wife is Republican State Sen. Angela Paxton, who serves in the Texas legislature.
The alleged incidents, which were reported by eight of Paxton’s staff members to the FBI, are also the subject of an ongoing federal criminal investigation, according to the Associated Press. In February 2023, the investigation was taken over by the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, which investigates public corruption by elected officials, per the AP.
The accusation is the latest in a series of legal controversies for Paxton, who has been under an indictment for securities fraud since 2015, with the trial, in that case, having been delayed for several years due to, among other reasons, disputes over the venue and payment of prosecutors. In that time, Paxton has been re-elected twice to the role.
— Michelle (@LivingBlueTX) May 24, 2023
Paxton, Phelan and Republican Gov. Greg Abbot of Texas have been contacted with requests for comment.
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