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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Takes Off Judge’s Hat, Calls Impeachment a Waste of Taxpayers’ Money

After the Texas Senate acquitted embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton on Saturday following a dramatic nine-day impeachment trial, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, took the House to task for the way it prosecuted charges against the three-term Republican, saying the process was flawed and needlessly wasted “millions of taxpayer dollars.”

“I’m going to be calling next week for a full audit of all the taxpayer money the House of Representatives has spent from the start of their investigation in March to the final bills they get from their lawyers,” said Patrick, also a three-term Republican . acted as judge during the trial that ended with the 16 charges against Paxton being voted out by a core group of 16 GOP senators.

In his closing remarks Saturday at the end of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sharply criticized the Texas House, saying it had wasted “millions of taxpayer dollars” in the impeachment trial.

Patrick said the impeachment, which suspended Paxton from office until he was reinstated after Saturday’s acquittal, was “forced” on the 31-member Senate by House impeachment managers, who rushed their investigation into the allegations, including that Paxton had abused his office to assist a friend and campaign donor who was in legal trouble and improperly fired several high-profile and once-trusted aides who warned federal authorities that the attorney general was likely operating outside the law.

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Analysis: Why the Senate voted to acquit Ken Paxton on every article of impeachment

Without commenting directly on the allegations against Paxton, Patrick placed blame for the events leading to the trial and verdict on House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican who is in his second term at the helm of the House. Room status.

“The Speaker and his team navigated the first impeachment of a statewide elected official in Texas in more than 100 years without regard to the precedent set by the House and every other impeachment that has come before it in the past occurred,” Patrick said, adding that he will push for an amendment to the Texas Constitution to establish clear rules and procedures for removing state officials.

More: How every Texas senator voted in Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial

Patrick’s comments rankled Phelan, who in March ordered a special committee to investigate the former attorney general’s aides’ claim after Paxton refused to explain to lawmakers why taxpayer money should be used to to settle a whistleblower lawsuit filed after those assistants were fired. .

“I find it deeply troubling that Lieutenant Governor Patrick, after weeks of asserting that he would preside over this process in an impartial and fair manner, would conclude by admitting his bias and making public his contempt for the People’s House,” Phelan said. in a statement from his office. “To be clear, Patrick attacked the House of Representatives for standing up to corruption.”

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Patrick, who received a $3 million contribution — a $1 million donation and a $2 million loan — from a pro-Paxton political action committee in the days leading up to the impeachment trial, has not explained why he accepted the contribution or what the conditions of the impeachment proceedings. be a loan. Patrick has been running for re-election for less than three years and was already sitting on a $22 million campaign war chest before Defend Texas Liberty PAC’s contribution.

The lieutenant governor has declined to discuss the transactions, but did announce after the PAC contribution that he would suspend fundraising until after the end of Paxton’s trial.

Attorney General Ken Paxton sits at the defense table on Friday before closing arguments in his impeachment trial.

Attorney General Ken Paxton sits at the defense table on Friday before closing arguments in his impeachment trial.

Paxton, who remains indicted on state fraud charges and is under federal investigation, said in a statement after his acquittal that the proceedings, which threatened to end his political career, were a “sham” coordinated by Phelan and the government from President Joe Biden.

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“Today the truth prevailed,” Paxton said in a statement issued immediately after the verdict. “The truth cannot be buried by mud-slinging politicians or their powerful benefactors.”

Paxton was not in the Senate when the votes were counted and the verdict was announced, but he called the charges against him and the trial a “weaponization of the impeachment process.”

Editorial: Paxton is acquitted and the Texans and good government are the losers

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick delivers the second article of impeachment in the trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton at the Texas Capitol on Saturday, September 16, 2023.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick delivers the second article of impeachment in the trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton at the Texas Capitol on Saturday, September 16, 2023.

State Rep. Andrew Murr, a Junction Republican who chaired the special House panel that brought the charges against Paxton, said he knew getting the two-thirds vote needed to convict Paxton would be a tall hill to climb. to climb in the Senate. is controlled 19-12 by the Republican Party.

Murr said the impeachment managers have presented the Senate with “significant unchallenged, undisputed evidence of Mr. Paxton’s corruption.” Murr declined to speculate on whether he or other Republicans who supported Paxton’s impeachment would face retaliation from their party’s base during the 2024 primaries.

“We have done our duty to highlight the evidence through this impeachment trial,” Murr told reporters after the trial. “And it’s for exactly that purpose. This lawsuit painted an accurate and clear picture of an out-of-control attorney general who refused to listen to the desperate warnings of the conservative lawyers he entrusted to help run his office.”

This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Dan Patrick Blames House and Dade Phelan for Wasting Money on Impeachment

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