Sat, Sep 16, 2023 7:25 PM
By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square
After the Senate voted to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton of all charges levied against him by the House General Investigating Committee on Saturday, several members of the House who voted against impeaching Paxton called on House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, to resign.
In an interview with The Center Square, Rep. Steve Toth, R-Spring, said Phelan should apologize and resign. He said the acquittal “isn’t just an exoneration [of Paxton]. It’s a repudiation of the Texas House. The Texas House owes not just Texas but the entire United States an apology for what they did. This was so wrong. We were told there would be evidence upon evidence upon evidence upon witnesses upon witnesses and there was nothing. It is a complete embarrassment for Texas, the Texas House, the speaker. The speaker needs to resign.”
Toth and the Republican Party of Texas were among the first to call the impeachment vote illegal and a “sham.”
Rep. Brian Harrison, R-Waxahachie, also called on Phelan to resign. In a lengthy statement, he applauded the Senate for “conducting a fair and transparent trial and for reaching a verdict that was obviously correct given the shocking lack of evidence. The Texas House leadership, who misled and pressured Republicans to join a Democrat effort to overturn the election, has, possibly irreparably, disgraced itself and tarnished the reputation of the entire Texas House.
“The staggering incompetence and dishonest conduct on display by the leadership of the Texas House, House General Investigating Committee, and Board of Managers must be repudiated.”
The House General Investigating Committee claims that AG Paxton “demonstrated a ‘shocking pattern of abuse and criminality’ and ‘the evidence we found was conclusive,’” he said, “were either outright lies, or the House Managers were so blinded by their desire to railroad a political enemy that they failed to take the time to learn the truth.”
For pushing the vote through within 48 hours of the House GIC releasing the findings of a secret investigation, as well as other reasons he lists, Harrison called on Phelan to resign.
Unapologetically, Phelan issued his statement, arguing that the Senate didn’t do its job. He said the House presented “extensive evidence of Ken Paxton’s corruption, deception and self-dealing. It is extremely unfortunate that … the Texas Senate chose not to remove him from office.”
He also accused Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presided over the trial, of “bias.” Phelan responded to Patrick’s scathing rebuke of the House for bringing charges of impeachment with no evidence to support them. Patrick said after the vote on Saturday that the House didn’t follow the rules of evidence and “the impeachment never should have happened.” He also called for an audit of House expenditures to determine how much taxpayer money the House “wasted,” saying, “Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this impeachment.” He said Texas needs a constitutional amendment to codify impeachment procedures to ensure what the House did wouldn’t be repeated.
Phelan said Patrick’s “tirade disrespects the Constitutional impeachment process.” He also accused Patrick and Republican senators who voted to acquit that the outcome of acquittal “appears to have been orchestrated from the start, cheating the people of Texas of justice.”
Phelan believed Paxton “clearly abused his power, compromised his agency and its employees and moved mountains to protect and benefit himself. The Senate’s refusal to remove Ken Paxton from office, is, however, not the end of this matter. Ken Paxton is the subject of multiple other lawsuit, indictments and investigations. If new facts continue to come out, those who allow him to keep his office will have much to answer for.”
In response to Phelan’s statement, Matt Rinaldi, Chair of the Republican Party of Texas, said, “This Speaker has done more political damage to his own supporters than any in recent history. With this statement, he’s making clear that he doesn’t intend to change a thing unless he’s removed.”
Houston-based Dr. Steve Hotze, who heads the Conservative Republicans of Texas PAC, told The Center Square, “After ramming sham impeachment charges against Attorney General Paxton through the Texas House, RINO Speaker Dade Phelan had the gall to rail against Lt. Gov. Patrick and Attorney General Paxton after Paxton was acquitted of all impeachment charges by the Texas Senate. Phelan’s letter brought shame upon himself and his RINO supporters in the Texas House.
“Phelan will be defeated by his district’s voters in the upcoming 2024 Texas Republican Primary. He already has three opponents, including former Chairman of the Orange County Republican Party David Covey, who is a solid conservative.
Paxton issued a statement after his acquittal saying, “the truth prevailed. The truth could not be buried by mudslinging politicians or their powerful benefactors.
“The sham impeachment coordinated by the Biden Administration with liberal House Speaker Dade Phelan and his kangaroo court has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, disrupted the work of the Office of Attorney General and left a dark and permanent stain on the Texas House. The weaponization of the impeachment process to settle political differences is not only wrong, it is immoral and corrupt. Now that this shameful process is over, my work to defend our constitutional rights will resume.”