Paxton, a Republican and star of the conservatives legal movement, was suspended from office in May when the GOP-controlled House voted 121-23 to impeach him on 20 articles ranging from bribery to abuse of public trust. Most of the articles deal with Paxton using his office to benefit a wealthy donor, Nate Paul, prompting eight of the attorney general’s top deputies to report him to the FBI in 2020.
Three other charges date back to Paxton’s pending 2015 felony securities fraud case, including lying to state investigators. The Senate is not immediately taking up those charges and a fourth related to Paxton’s ethics filings in the impeachment trial.
Paxton has said he expects to be acquitted and that the charges are based on “hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims.”
Here’s look at the 20 articles of impeachment:
DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY
ARTICLE 1 – Protection of charitable organization
Paxton is accused of failing to act as a public protector of charitable organizations by directing his employees in the attorney general’s office to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the Roy F. & JoAnn Cole Mitte Foundation against entities controlled by Paul, harming the Austin charity in an effort to benefit the wealthy donor.
ARTICLE 2 – Abuse of the opinion process
Paxton is accused of misusing his official power to issue written legal opinions. He allegedly had employees prepare an opinion that protected some of Paul’s properties from being sold in foreclosure. Paxton concealed his actions by asking a Senate committee chairperson to seek that opinion. He’s also accused of directing employees to reverse their legal conclusion to help Paul.
ARTICLE 3 – Abuse of the open records process
Paxton is accused of misusing his official power by allegedly interfering with his office’s handling of a public records request dealing with the files of a criminal investigation into Paul.
ARTICLE 4 – Misuse of official information
Paxton is accused of misusing his power to administer public information law by improperly obtaining previously undisclosed information held by the attorney general’s office to benefit Paul.
DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY
ARTICLE 5 – Engagement of Cammack
Paxton is accused of misusing official powers by hiring attorney Brandon Cammack to investigate a baseless complaint made by Paul. That led to Cammack issuing more than 30 grand jury subpoenas in an effort to help Paul.
ARTICLE 6 – Termination of whistleblowers
Paxton is accused of violating the state’s whistleblower law by retaliating against employees who reported his alleged unlawful acts to law enforcement, terminating them without good cause or due process. He’s also accused of engaging in a public and private campaign to impugn those employees’ professional reputations or prejudice their future employment.