East Texas state representatives disagree over AG Paxton’s impeachment

Full roundtable discussion between state legislators from East Texas.
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 4:30 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Several state representatives from East Texas joined East Texas now to discuss the recent impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton.

On May 27, the Texas House of Representatives voted 121-23 to adopt 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton. Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mt. Pleasant), and Rep. Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) discussed their thoughts on the process the House went through before this vote.

Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) spoke in agreement with the House’s decision as well as the impeachment process.

“Seeing the evidence that I saw and hearing the testimony that I heard you know and the evidence that was presented, I stand by my vote. It was the right vote, and we will see how the trial comes out in the senate,” VanDeaver said.

Schaefer pointed out that Paxton was elected by the citizens of Texas, and therefore an impeachment process ought to be done well. In Schaefer’s opinion, this process could have been done better. Schaefer said that House members were not given the opportunity to speak to witnesses, witnesses were not sworn under oath, and House members were not allowed to speak with investigators. Without these factors, Schaefer said he did not have confidence in Paxton’s guilt, and therefore voted no.

“Whether you believe he was guilty or not guilty is a separate question, you have to have a good process. Process separates the United States from 3rd world countries,” said Schaefer.

Hefner said that the House followed the same process in the recent expulsion of a representative. According to Hefner, presentation of evidence happens in a trial; in this case, he believes enough evidence was presented to move the impeachment process to the next level. Hefner said that the process for Paxton followed the rules of the House. He conceded that it could have been done better, but in this case there was “immense pressure” from constituents to vote in favor of the impeachment. Hefner said he stands by his vote against Paxton.

Several state representatives joined East Texas Now to discuss the recent impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton.

“The general investigating committee did their job, did their thing, did their investigation and we took that vote based on the current process. And so, if the same process was followed in the impeachment process, and all these things’ people are talking about with interviewing witnesses and cross-examining witnesses and presentation of evidence, that happens in a trial. And those things are going to happen. We determined whether there was enough evidence to move the ball forward and I felt like there was, I stand by my vote,” Hefner said.

Clardy then stepped in to say that despite his “resilience” against outside pressure, in this case he felt none. He said he took a principle stand against what he felt was a poor process, agreeing with Schaefer’s diagnoses of the procedure. Clardy feels that due process is a right of all citizens, and in this case it was executed poorly, comparing the House to a grand jury against Paxton.

“I voted against impeaching Ken Paxton,” Clardy said. “I don’t think - and what I said at the time was I don’t think the process was followed. I don’t think it was a fair opportunity, I don’t think significant evidence was presented, and from a procedural not a personal standpoint, everybody in our country is entitled to due process of our law.”

Schaefer and Clardy were in agreement that the timing of the vote was suboptimal. Clardy pointed out that nothing was done about Paxton until the very end of the legislative session, and Schaefer said he felt it was strange that multiple agencies were allegedly aware of Paxton’s supposed wrongdoings for years and yet did nothing. Hefner stated that the justice system is known to move slowly.

After this roundtable, Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) joined East Texas Now in the studio to discuss, among other recent topics, the impeachment process. Hughes pointed out that this is a very rare event, only having happened twice in Texas in the past century. Now that the House has returned the articles of impeachment, the Senate will hold a public trial for Paxton which will require a two-thirds vote to remove him from office. The trial will begin after Labor Day, and is expected to last for several weeks.

Rep. Bryan Hughes joined East Texas Now in the studio to discuss, among other recent topics, the impeachment process for Attorney General Ken Paxton.