Texas GOP Leaders Go to War As AG Accused of Illegal Conduct After Calling For Speaker to Resign

FILE - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to the media in Weslaco, Texas, on Jan. 27, 2022.

Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP, File

The attorney general of Texas and the state House speaker have gone to war in a very public feud this week, which included calls for resignation and testimony regarding criminal allegations.

Texas AG Ken Paxton, who has in the past been indicted for securities fraud, released a bombastic statement on Tuesday calling for Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan to resign. Paxton accused Phelan of being “in an obviously intoxicated state” while presiding over the chamber last week. Video of Phelan badly slurring his words while conducting House business went viral over the weekend.

“Texans were dismayed to witness his performance presiding over the Texas House in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication,” Paxton said in a statement and called for Phelan to resign.

Phelan’s spokesperson, Cait Wittman, slammed Paxton’s call for his resignation as politically motivated and argued Paxton was seeking retribution for the House investigation “events tied to the firing of the whistleblowers in addition to Ken Paxton’s alleged illegal conduct” since March.

“The motives for and timing behind Paxton’s statement today couldn’t be more evident. Mr. Paxton’s statement today amounts to little more than a last-ditch effort to save face,” read Wittman’s statement.

On Wednesday, the state House committee investigating Paxton heard from witnesses detailing Paxton’s alleged misdeeds. The Texas Tribune called the revelations “stunning” and explained that “In painstaking and methodical detail in a rare public forum, four investigators for the House General Investigating Committee testified that they believe Paxton broke numerous state laws, misspent office funds and misused his power to benefit a friend and political donor.”

Paxton is being investigated for seeking the state House to settle a $3.3 million lawsuit filed by a whistleblower who claimed the AG fired four high-ranking employees of his office after they accused him of accepting bribes.

“It is alarming and very serious having this discussion when millions of taxpayer dollars have been asked to remedy what is alleged to be some wrongs,” Committee Chair Andrew Murr said. “That’s something we have to grapple with. It’s challenging.”

The Tribune noted the Murr’s committee “could recommend the House censure or impeach Paxton — a new threat to an attorney general who has for years survived scandals and been reelected twice despite securities fraud charges in 2015 and news of a federal investigation into the whistleblowers’ claims in 2020.”

Have a tip we should know? tips@mediaite.com

Filed Under:

Alex Griffing is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Send tips via email: alexanderg@mediaite.com. Follow him on Twitter: @alexgriffing