East Texas lawmakers explain votes on Paxton impeachment
AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV) - East Texas lawmakers are explaining the reasoning behind their votes in the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
“Even if a person is guilty, even if a person is a crook, you want to give them the best possible process,” said State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), who voted against impeaching Paxton with 22 other house representatives. Paxton faces allegations of abusing his office’s powers, retaliating against whistleblowers, and obstructing justice, among other charges.
“I do believe that Ken Paxton has serious moral and legal problems,” Schaefer said. “I said that back during the primary when Congressman Gohmert ran against him. I believe that’s the case.”
With that being said, Schaefer felt the process to impeach Paxton was “bad.”
“In this case, we did not get to hear from witnesses,” he said. “We did not, as a full body, get to talk to the investigators. And that’s just a basic for me. We need to hear the testimony. We need to be able to talk directly with the investigators and we didn’t get that.”
Also voting against impeachment, State Rep. Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches), an attorney for 35 years who felt the House didn’t get a fair shot at reviewing work done by the investigative committee.
“This is an important issue,” Clardy said. “This is a constitutional office held by a gentleman who has been elected in a contested primary and contested general election just a few months ago. Duly elected by the people in Texas. And I think this deserved a great deal more attention to scrutiny than we were allowed to give it in the limited time that we had.”
And while Clardy and Schaefer voted no, fellow East Texas State Rep. Jay Dean (R-Longview) voted in favor along with lawmakers from Lufkin, Palestine, and Mt. Pleasant.
“I’m disappointed that we were put in that position, but our duty is very clear in the constitution,” Dean said.
Dean said he spoke with constitutionalist and several people he considers to be legal scholars before voting, and said the Texas Constitution gives the Senate the responsibility of being judge and jury.
“It’s their job to adjudicate,” Dean said. “It’s their job to take evidence, bring witnesses under oath, and give Attorney General Paxton the opportunity to come and defend himself under oath.”
Paxton will now stand trial in the Texas Senate with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick presiding. State senators likes Bryan Hughes (R-Tyler) say since they’re serving as the jury in the case, they’re limited when it comes to public comment.
“I won’t be discussing details with anyone because we want to make sure we follow the law and follow the Constitution,” Hughes said.
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