Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Today's the Day in Texas

And now, we move from alleged sleazy behavior by a Democrat to alleged sleazy behavior by a Republican. In this case, the allegations are rather more credible. Certainly, they were substantive enough to persuade the very Republican Texas state House to impeach very Republican state AG Ken Paxton. He's been suspended from work ever since being impeached in May, but that won't last much longer, as his state Senate trial commences today. Within the month, he should be either permanently restored to his position, or out of a job.

There are a total of 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton, which cover two aspects of Paxton's behavior that were once distinct but nonetheless became closely related. The first of those is his questionable relationship with real estate investor Nate Paul, who certainly appears to have been the beneficiary of all sorts of influence peddling, some of it steering money toward Paul, some of it steering legal scrutiny away from him.

The second is Paxton's numerous extramarital dalliances. Those would be merely impolitic for an alleged God-fearing, Bible-following Christian, if not for the AG's alleged use of state resources to cover his tracks. Further, in a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" kind of situation, Paul apparently helped facilitate the sexcapades by hiring at least one of Paxton's paramours. That is how alleged corrupt behavior Part A and alleged corrupt behavior Part B ended up closely related.

In theory, the influence peddling is worse, and should get the lion's share of the attention. In reality, according to those in the know, it's the salacious stuff that's going to be front and center during the trial. Adding to the drama, and all but guaranteeing that this will become a Lifetime Movie of the Week sometime soon, is that Paxton's wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton (R), will be front and center for the whole thing.

Note that Angela Paxton will not be voting on whether to convict or not; under the rules that were adopted for the proceedings, she is forbidden from casting a ballot. That said, her seat will count for numerical purposes, which means that she is a de facto "abstain" vote, and that 21 of the 30 non-Paxton senators will be needed to convict. That's 70% of the available votes. For what it's worth, in the Texas House, 121 members out of 144 (84%) voted to impeach. On the other hand, the state Senate is understood to be a little more Paxton-friendly, and the presiding officer will be Lt. Gov Dan Patrick (R-TX), who is a Paxton ally. So, both conviction and exoneration are well within the realm of possibility.

Even if Paxton dodges this particular bullet, he's still got a snootful of troubles to deal with. He's under state indictment in two different cases, one for securities fraud and one for influence peddling. He's got whatever troubles at home will arise from his marital freelancing. And if he tries to run for office again, Texas voters are not likely to be happy about what they've seen and heard.

Nationally, Republicans would undoubtedly like to be rid of Paxton. He's an anchor around their necks, and is used as a poster child for GOP corruption/hypocrisy in Texas and in neighboring states as well. National Republicans don't get a vote, per se, but they can certainly make clear to their colleagues in the state Senate how very nice it would be to be rid of this troublesome fellow. All in all, it's going to be quite the Lone Star drama. (Z)

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