The day after the Texas House voted overwhelmingly to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton, the ethics panel investigating his alleged misdeeds issued a dozen new subpoenas that indicate their inquiry is far from over.
A Dallas Morning News analysis found that many of the subpoenaed entities are inextricably linked to the personal and political finances of the now-suspended Paxton and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton.
Allie Morris, who covers state politics for the Dallas Morning News’ Austin bureau, said she was able to find many of the entities being subpoenaed through public records requests.
“There’s a blind trust that the (Paxtons) set up a few years ago. There’s also a bank that gave Sen. Angela Paxton a $2 million campaign loan when she was first running for the Texas Senate. There’s also a mortgage lender for one of their Austin properties who received a subpoena, as well as a smattering of other banks where Attorney General Ken Paxton has reported liabilities over the years,” Morris said. “What that tells us is that the committee seems to be digging into their finances ahead of a trial this summer.”
The Texas House voted to impeach Paxton in late May, and next week the Senate will set the rules for the upcoming trial.
“As you may know, impeachment is not common in Texas. There’s been three in the state’s history. And so we’re in a little bit of an unclear state. So right now, at this point, they are gathering evidence for the trial,” Morris said. “And Paxton’s legal team is really fighting those efforts. They say that until the Senate actually sets these rules, the House impeachment managers do not have authority to question witnesses or to request new documents.”
The Senate’s rules will also clarify what information both sides have to share with each other as part of the trial process, as well as if and how witnesses might be included.
“Really, this is in the hands of the state Senate now, which is led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, to set the rules of the road here about how this will proceed,” Morris said. “The one thing we know for sure is that the chamber has already voted that the trial should begin by Aug. 28. So we do have that parameter.”
Paxton also received news this week about the ongoing charges of securities fraud that he has been facing for eight years. The location of the trial, which was up in the air for a time, will be Harris County.
“I think a lot of people see this as a blow for Attorney General Ken Paxton. He’s long fought to have this case tried in Collin County, which is where he lives and where he built his political career,” Morris said. “The prosecutors argue that they couldn’t impanel a fair jury there. And so now it appears the case at this point is going to be moving forward in Houston, in Harris County.”
Morris said it’s possible this decision could be revisited, but it is unclear how likely that is at the moment.
“I think the point that is significant is that if this trial is going to move forward in Houston, could it potentially run on the same timetable as impeachment? Might he be facing two trials potentially at the same time?” Morris said. “That is a question that’s open for interpretation. And I guess we’ll see in the coming weeks whether that lines up.”