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This Week in Schadenfreude: Dirty Laundry

State AG Ken Paxton has been a Texas-sized sleazeball for well over a decade, engaging in all sorts of (alleged) abuses of the law and (alleged) abuses of his high office. He's also avoided paying a price for his misdeeds, at least so far, through clever legal machinations and foot-dragging tactics that even put Donald Trump to shame.

On September 5, the rubber may meet the road, as that is the day that Paxton's impeachment trial commences. And in advance of that, every skeleton in his closet appears to be seeing the light of day. There's been plenty of dirt this week, for example, about exactly how corrupt his relationship with real estate developer Nate Paul is, and how aggressively he has worked to conceal that relationship. The only problem with this sort of information is that while it makes great fodder in an actual court, it doesn't necessarily make a big dent in the court of public opinion, since it's kind of complicated and abstract. Since an impeachment is at least as much political as it is legal (see Trump, Donald, Impeachments of), the prosecution needs to undermine Paxton with voters if it wants to secure a conviction.

Consequently, this week has also seen a lot of salacious stuff come out about Paxton. There is, first of all, former Texas Ranger David Maxwell, who worked as Paxton's director of law enforcement. This week, an interview was released in which Maxwell detailed a pervasive pattern of sexual harassment in Paxton's office, particularly involving First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster and Deputy AG Aaron Reitz (as a sidebar, Webster is still in Paxton's employ; Reitz just left to become Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) chief of staff).

As to Paxton himself, he not only tolerated the hostile work environment, he was also cheating left, right, and sideways on his wife. It's not illegal to have a mistress, per se, but he also had burner phones and fake e-mail addresses and a fake Uber account so he could cover his tracks. Some of these things may have been funded with public money. So, we're talking possible fraud here.

These various personal failings will not sit well with the Texas electorate, especially given their overall social conservatism. And this, in turn, has two implications. First, it puts pressure on the Texas senators to cashier Paxton, even if they might not be otherwise inclined to do so. Second, it gives the Texas senators cover to cashier Paxton, if they believe he needs to go but they are worried about blowback. It's not a coincidence that just this week, as reader M.P. in Dallas brings to our attention, still-popular former governor Rick Perry (R) wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal decreeing that Paxton has to go.

In short, it sure looks like the walls are crumbling down. If so, it's about time, since Americans in all 50 states deserve upstanding public servants, as opposed to modern-day machine-style bosses like Paxton. (Z)

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