In the wake of the Senate’s decision to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton of all charges brought forth by the House General Investigating Committee, a chorus of voices within the Texas House is calling for the resignation of House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican from Beaumont.
In an exclusive interview with The Center Square, Rep. Steve Toth, a Republican from Spring, minced no words, stating that Phelan should issue an apology and step down. Toth emphasized that Paxton’s acquittal is not just an exoneration but a resounding repudiation of the Texas House itself.
Toth asserted, “The Texas House owes not just Texas but the entire United States an apology for what they did. This was so wrong. We were promised overwhelming evidence and witnesses, yet there was nothing. It’s a complete embarrassment for Texas, the Texas House, and the speaker. The speaker needs to resign.”
Toth, along with the Republican Party of Texas, were among the first to label the impeachment vote as illegal and a “sham.”
Rep. Brian Harrison, representing Waxahachie, echoed Toth’s sentiment and also called on Speaker Phelan to step down. In a detailed statement, Harrison commended the Senate for conducting a fair and transparent trial, citing the glaring lack of evidence as a testament to the correctness of Paxton’s acquittal. Harrison lamented the damage inflicted upon the reputation of the Texas House and its leadership, stating, “The staggering incompetence and dishonest conduct displayed by the House leadership must be repudiated.”
The House General Investigating Committee contended that Attorney General Paxton had displayed a “shocking pattern of abuse and criminality.” Harrison dismissed these claims as “outright lies,” suggesting that political bias may have clouded the House Managers’ judgment.
Harrison criticized the rushed vote, occurring within 48 hours of the House GIC’s findings, among other reasons, for his call on Phelan to resign.
Unapologetically, Speaker Phelan released a statement countering the Senate’s decision, asserting that the House had presented “extensive evidence of Ken Paxton’s corruption, deception, and self-dealing.” He expressed disappointment that the Texas Senate chose not to remove Paxton from office. Phelan also accused Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who presided over the trial, of bias.
Phelan’s response followed Patrick’s scathing criticism of the House’s impeachment efforts, emphasizing the absence of evidence and calling for an audit of House expenditures. Patrick argued for a constitutional amendment to clarify impeachment procedures to prevent a recurrence of such proceedings.
Phelan characterized Patrick’s remarks as a “tirade” that disrespects the constitutional impeachment process and suggested that the acquittal might have been orchestrated from the outset, denying justice to the people of Texas.
Phelan maintained that Paxton had “clearly abused his power” and hinted that further legal challenges awaited the Attorney General. He warned, “If new facts continue to come out, those who allow him to keep his office will have much to answer for.”
In response to Phelan’s statement, Matt Rinaldi, Chair of the Republican Party of Texas, stated, “This Speaker has done more political damage to his own supporters than any in recent history,” suggesting that Phelan might face a formidable challenge in the 2024 Texas Republican Primary.
🚨Senate finds Paxton NOT GUILTY🚨— Brian Harrison (@brianeharrison) September 16, 2023
Speaker Phelan must step down now for empowering this Democrat effort while killing Republican priorities.
I am also demanding the State Auditor investigate how much tax money this wasted.
Full statement👇#txlege #PaxtonImpeachmentTrial pic.twitter.com/2wqIgZmCqG
Dr. Steve Hotze, leader of the Conservative Republicans of Texas PAC, expressed his discontent with Phelan’s actions, stating, “Phelan’s letter brought shame upon himself and his supporters in the Texas House.” Hotze predicted Phelan’s defeat in the upcoming primary election.
Attorney General Paxton, in a statement following his acquittal, celebrated the triumph of truth over political maneuvering. He criticized the impeachment process as a “sham” coordinated by the Biden Administration and labeled it as immoral and corrupt. Paxton vowed to resume his work defending constitutional rights now that the ordeal was over.