The Texas House of Representatives selected the 12 members who will be tasked with presenting the evidence in the Senate trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The members — called impeachment managers — were appointed Monday by House Speaker Dade Phelan. The move comes just two days after the House overwhelmingly voted to impeach Paxton over allegations of illegal misdeeds related to one of his political donors.
Rep. Andrew Murr, the chairman of the board of managers, said in a press conference Monday that the group is handling the impeachment process with the "weight and deference that it deserves and requires."
"This is about facts, and this is about evidence," Murr told reporters. "At the end of the day, my colleagues and I will not stand for public corruption."
The board of managers is composed of seven Republicans and five Democrats:
- Chairman Andrew Murr (R)
- Vice Chair Ann Johnson (D)
- Charlie Geren (R)
- Joe Moody (D)
- Terry Canales (D)
- Jeff Leach (R)
- Oscar Longoria (D)
- Morgan Meyer (R)
- Briscoe Cain (R)
- Cody Vasut (R)
- David Spiller (R)
- Erin Gámez (D)
Murr could not comment on the timing of the Senate trial.
Paxton has denied any allegations of wrongdoing and has called the impeachment process a "sham" and "illegal."
One of the big foreseen controversies with the Senate trial is the fact that Paxton's wife, Sen. Angela Paxton, would be required to be in attendance. It's unclear whether she will recuse herself.
Murr didn't directly respond to questions about whether the board of managers thinks she should not participate in a vote to convict Paxton.
"We believe that the Senate determines its rules for handling a trial as it sits as a court of impeachment under the Texas Constitution," Murr said.
Paxton, who is currently suspended from his duties, was impeached by the Texas House in a vote of 121-23 Saturday.
The allegations against Paxton
Paxton was impeached on 20 counts, including constitutional bribery, dereliction of duty and retaliation against former employees.
Although some of the articles are related to Paxton’s 2015 securities fraud federal indictment, for which he has yet to stand trial, most of the allegations are related to Paxton’s relationship with an Austin real estate investor Nate Paul.
Paul contributed to Paxton's 2018 campaign and was being investigated by the FBI in 2020 when he asked Paxton to intervene in the investigation.
Paxton forced his staff to intervene, and even hired an outside attorney to issue subpoenas that would benefit Paul.
He did this despite his staff telling him not to and warning him of possible violations of the law, House investigators have said.
Investigators also found that Paxton forced his staff to rewrite an opinion on COVID-19 restrictions to benefit Paul.
— Sergio Martínez-Beltrán (@SergioMarBel) May 29, 2023
Before speaking to reporters, all of the members walked from the Texas House chamber to the chamber of the Texas Senate to deliver the articles of impeachment against Paxton.
"Mr. President, as chair of the board of managers, I'm directed by the House of Representatives to present to the Senate the articles of impeachment preferred against Warren Kenneth Paxton Jr.," Murr said from the Senate floor, flanked by the members of the impeachment board.
The Texas House launched an investigation into Paxton a few months ago after his office asked the Texas Legislature for $3.3 million to cover a settlement of a lawsuit brought by Paxton's former deputies.
They were fired in 2020 after they reported Paxton's misdeeds related to Paul to the FBI.
Rep. Charlie Geren, a member of the House General Investigating Committee and the board of managers, said during Saturday's impeachment vote the whistleblowers "were Republican public servants who were, in many cases, recruited personally by [Paxton] to join the OAG."