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Texas Senate acquits Attorney General Ken Paxton: A huge win for the more conservative wing of the GOP

The prosecutor faced 20 articles of impeachment, which included charges of bribery, abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

Ken Paxton

(Cordon Press)

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Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted Saturday of all charges. Paxton was not in the Senate as the 30 lawmakers voted one by one on the 20 or so charges against him. The senators sealed the first impeachment proceeding in Texas against a statewide office holder in more than a century.

In total, Paxton faced 20 articles of impeachment, which included charges of bribery, abuse of power and obstruction of justice. At first, 16 of them were analyzed, leaving the remaining four to be evaluated at a later date depending on the progress of the trial.

Ken Paxton always denied the accusations and, according to his lawyer, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Voting began on Friday after nine days of deliberations. Senators decided Paxton's future behind closed doors. There was great speculation regarding how many Republicans would vote against the attorney general. If all 12 Democrats had found him guilty, nine of the remaining 18 Republicans would have had to vote against Paxton to remove him from office. It seemed that partisan divides were strong on most charges but there were times when some Democratic senators voted against certain charges.

The accusations against Paxton were made by some of his former highest-ranking aides, such as his former aide Drew Wicker.

Last May, an overwhelming majority of the Texas House of Representatives (121-31) voted to impeach the attorney general after an investigation into several alleged crimes for which Paxton had been charged in 2020. The FBI even opened an investigation after several people from Paxton's office reported his alleged crimes.

This historic process also showed some of the divisions within the Republican Party. Moderate Republicans tried to oust a prominent ally of former President Trump who was elected in the midterms by a wide margin against Democratic candidate Rochelle Garza. In the primaries, he defeated George P. Bush by more than 30 points.

In short, Paxton's acquittal is a huge victory for the more conservative wing of the GOP.

Paxton's wife, a senator, was present but didn't vote

All eyes were on Angela Paxton. The attorney general's wife, a state senator, did not vote because it would have been a conflict of interest but she did attend the proceedings. Her presence was also notorious because there were several charges related to her husband accepting gifts from a woman with whom he allegedly had an affair.

Specifically, he is accused of performing political favors to Nate Paul, a real estate developer and campaign donor, in exchange for a job for his alleged lover as well as a kitchen remodel.