One Sided Lawfare Waged Against Texas Conservative Ken Paxton
Ken Paxton impeached on a vote of 121 to 33.
An investigative committee of the (overwhelmingly Republican) Texas state House of Representatives referred twenty articles of impeachment of state Attorney General Ken Paxton to the full body, last week.
The full body didn't waste any time in acting on the report.
The articles of impeachment included: bribery, unfitness and abuse of office.
The Texas state Senate will now conduct a trial, and the Governor will appoint an interim Attorney General.
Ken Paxton was first elected state Attorney General in 2014, succeeding Greg Abbott when he (Abbott) first ran for Governor.
In that election (2014), both Abbott and Paxton cruised to victory in the general election.
As state Attorney General, Paxton advanced the conservative agenda and was, in return, targeted by the SEC, then controlled by Obama appointees, for securities fraud prior to taking office as state Attorney General. The civil complaints of the SEC were twice dismissed by federal judges, the second time with prejudice.
A second and wholly unrelated case arose from a bribery allegation. In this case, a favorable decision regarding a supporter allegedly made the supporter's political contribution into a bribe. It was also alleged that Paxton had an affair with a woman who was subsequently hired by the supporter. None of these allegations against Paxton were ever proved.
However, the lieutenants in Paxton's office who brought the allegations forward were subsequently fired, reassigned or put on leave. This led, in 2020, to a third allegation, viz., that the adverse personnel actions were a violation of the state's Whistleblower's Acts. While Paxton argued that, as an elected office holder, he has some perorgatives over his staff, the state of Texas entered into a financial settlement with the whistleblowers, resolving the case.
The shift to a "process crime" is typical in what is characterized a "lawfare," or the use of the law to harass targeted individuals, eventually to bankrupt them financially, or else to ensnare them in a technical violation of the law.
Think of the Al Capone case. The Feds couldn't get him on racketeering, dealing in gambling, alcohol and prostitution, or gangland-style murder of rivals. But, the Feds got him for not paying income taxes on money that had to come from somewhere to support his luxurious lifestyle. In a very real sense. Caapone was done-in by his Florida mansion.
Ditto Paul Manafort. His ostrich jacket was proof he wasn't declaring his real income (from foreign governments seeking access to U.S. politicians).
As to what is wrong with lawfare is its one-sidedness. Why is Paul Manafort in jail, but not Hunter Biden? Why is Donald Trump under investigation for mis-reporting a hush money payment to one of his bimbos, and Hillary Clinton isn't under investigation for mis-reporting the fabrication of Russiagate as "legal expenses"?
Getting back to Ken Paxton, the investigative committee of the state House of Representatives had been quietly investigating the allegations of corruption in his (Paxton's) relationship with his supporter. It appears that there was more than was previously revealed, including extensive renovations to his (Paxton's) home underwritten by his supporter.
Renovations to one's home is one of the many ways that "public servants" can profit from supporters, even if there is no no quid pro quo.
I'm sorry, but public servants have to be satisfied with their salary. Codes of conduct try to spell out what this means, but it's a never-ending process of trying to close loopholes.
Going way back, the Teapot Dome scandal was revealed because of extensive renovations to former Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall's New Mexico ranch, which were subsequently connected to the oil companies that were to benefit by the deal he (Fall) approved.
Members of the U.S. Congress have an allowance for travel, and cannot accept travel from others. If you give a speech at a dinner, you're allowed only to eat the same meal that is served to those gathered. You are severely limited to the monetary value of any gift you are given. Back in the day, an organization with which I was associated gave a coffee mug to members we honored to stay within this severe limit.
The federal judiciary has its own rules which it has, from time to time, changed.
President Trump accepted resignations from two members of his cabinet who did not understand that Trump's rules for travel applied to them.
Here in Virginia, a former Republican Governor was compromised by a series of gifts from a supporter (but a former Democratic Governor who pretty much did the same gift-receiving thing and is now a U.S. Senator).
I'm sorry, but you can't enjoy the kind of lifestyle that people in the private sector can enjoy; well, unless they are rich before becoming a public servant. Even so, we notice that many politicians grow rich while in office, sponsor so-called private bills that benefit their donors, get good-for-nothing family members appointed to no-show jobs, and in other ways profit from their position.##
Professor of Economics and Finance, Shenandoah University