Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, shown in Washington in November 2021, faced impeachment by the Texas House of Representatives on Saturday. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo
May 27 (UPI) -- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has been subject to legal scrutiny for alleged abuse of office and other scandals for nearly a decade, has been removed from office pending a trial in the state Senate after the Republican-led House voted to impeach him Saturday.
The Texas House of Representatives began broadcasting the legislative session around 1 p.m. local time and considerations lasted around five hours.
The vote to impeach passed with 121 state lawmakers in favor of impeachment and 23 against, with two people voting present and three others absent from the chamber. The resolution to impeach required a simple majority to pass.
The impeachment comes after the bipartisan House General Investigative Committee filed 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton earlier this week after finding him unfit for office, the impeachment resolution shows.
The Texas House has 149 members, all of whom had been present in the chamber ahead of the vote, and one vacant seat.
Paxton, who was first elected in 2014, was indicted shortly after taking office in 2015 on felony securities fraud charges for allegedly pushing investment into the former Texas software company Servergy -- without disclosing that he would profit from the solicited investments.
In 2016, Servergy and Paxton faced a fraud lawsuit from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for "boosting stock sales with false claims about a supposedly revolutionary computer server."
The SEC lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge the following year and the criminal case has been delayed ever since despite efforts by Paxton's defense attorneys to dismiss the case.
In 2020, Paxton was accused of corruption by four former staffers who approached the FBI and said that Paxton may have committed crimes involving Nate Paul, a wealthy donor in Austin. Earlier this year, Paxton agreed to pay a $3.3 million settlement to the four whistleblowers.
Amid those troubles, Paxton -- a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump -- petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 presidential election while claiming Texas had found evidence of significant voter fraud in four states.
The high court dismissed Paxton's petition just days later and the State Bar of Texas ultimately sued him last year after the legal regulators argued he acted unprofessionally and lied to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Paxton's woes have now started to cause rifts within the GOP in Texas between his Republican defenders and those in the party fed up with what they see as a lack of principles.
The attorney general on Saturday has been sharing tweets from his supporters which have called the possible impeachment resolution a "kangaroo court" and "illegal."
"Attorney General Paxton continuously and blatantly violated laws and procedures," Rep. David Spiller, a Republican who served on the investigative committee, said at Saturday's session.
"Today is a very grim and difficult day for this House and for the state of Texas."