Texas AG Paxton accuses Speaker Phelan of being intoxicated in Capitol, calls for resignation
AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Tribune) - Attorney General Ken Paxton said Tuesday that state House Speaker Dade Phelan should resign, accusing him of presiding over his chamber “in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication.” Paxton also asked the House General Investigating Committee to probe Phelan, a fellow Republican.
Paxton’s call for Phelan’s resignation came days after a video clip went viral that showed Phelan slurring his words while overseeing House floor proceedings Friday night. Phelan’s office has declined to comment on the incident.
“After much consideration, it is with profound disappointment that I call on Speaker Dade Phelan to resign at the end of this legislation session,” Paxton said in a statement posted on Twitter. “His conduct has negatively impacted the legislative process and constitutes a failure to live up to his duty to the public.”
Minutes later, Paxton also posted to Twitter a screenshot of a letter he sent the chair of the General Investigating Committee, Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, asking him to open an “investigation into Speaker Phelan for violation of House rules, state law, and for conduct unbecoming his position.”
Phelan’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Paxton’s remarks.
Texas Republicans regularly fight among themselves, but Paxton’s comments Tuesday were striking even by that standard.
The 44-second video clip of Phelan began circulating on social media over the weekend. It was pushed by Phelan’s intraparty critics, including former state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford. It was also the subject of anonymous text messages deriding Phelan as “Drunk Dade.”
Phelan’s defenders noted he seemed to speak normally before and after the clip. They also noted that the people pushing the video, like Stickland, may be out for revenge after the House voted to expel one of their political allies, ex-state Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City.
The House ousted Slaton after an investigation by the General Investigating Committee found he engaged in sexual misconduct with a 19-year-old aide.
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