Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas on Aug. 5, 2022.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas on Aug. 5, 2022. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)

AUSTIN, Texas — Impeachment proceedings against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton start at 1 p.m. Central time on Saturday, according to a memo sent to all members.

The memo set out procedures for how the House and Senate will handle the the impeachment proceeding, which hasn’t been undertaken in Texas in nearly 50 years. It also pushed back against Paxton’s statements that the effort shouldn’t be allowed.

A GOP-led House committee on Thursday filed 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton, a third-term Republican. They accused the state’s top lawyer of sweeping abuses, including bribery, obstruction of justice and abuse of the public trust over a stretch of several years.

Paxton was set to host a news conference and deliver remarks Friday afternoon in Austin.

House investigators conducted a monthslong ethics probe into the attorney general after his agency requested $3.3 million in state funds to settle a whistleblower lawsuit filed by former employees who alleged Paxton abused his position to help a campaign donor.

The memo the investigating committee distributed Friday made reference to that funding request.

“We cannot over-emphasize the fact that, but for Paxton’s own request for a taxpayer-funded settlement ... Paxton would not be facing impeachment,” according to the memo, which signed by committee chairman Andrew Murr, a Junction Republican, and vice chair Ann Johnson, a Houston Democrat.

The impeachment articles allege Paxton improperly used his office’s resources, money and time to help real estate developer and donor Nate Paul on multiple occasions throughout 2020. His deputies raised alarm bells and eventually reported him to law enforcement.

Paxton received an expensive kitchen upgrade and Paul hired a woman with whom the attorney general was allegedly having an affair, both the whistleblowers and House investigators alleged.

The whistleblowers were then all fired or resigned; four sued under state whistleblower laws and the parties agreed to the $3.3 million settlement earlier this year.

Some House lawmakers, including GOP Speaker Dade Phelan, have balked at taxpayer money being used to fund the settlement.

The committee memo pushed back against statements made by a Paxton deputy that the investigation and impeachment are disallowed under law and legal precedent. General Litigation Division Chief Chris Hilton said state law only allows officials to be impeached for conduct committed since the last election, and Paxton has denied all wrongdoing. Paxton was reelected November.

The doctrine Hilton referenced, the memo stated, “does not apply to impeachment.”

If a majority of House members endorse impeachment, Paxton would immediately be barred from performing his official duties. The Senate then would hold a trial to judge the allegations. Two thirds of senators would be needed to back removal from office.

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