Texas state Sen.on Tuesday has so far attended every day of the , her husband, who is accused of misusing his office to cover up an alleged affair, among other things — and of using his relationship with a campaign donor to benefit the alleged affair.
The Texas Senate is deciding whether to convict Ken Paxton on, which include bribery, misuse of public office and unfitness of office. If he is convicted of any one of them, he will be removed as attorney general and could be barred from running for office again.
Ken Paxton has pleaded not guilty but has not attended the impeachment trial since the first day.
While Ken Paxton is not being impeached over the alleged affair, his former top aide, Jeff Mateer, testified last week that he believed it is "relevant" to the accusations in the articles of impeachment. Paxton is accused of abusing his office to benefit Austin real estate developer Nate Paul. In return, the articles of impeachment allege, Paul hired the woman with whom Ken Paxton was allegedly having an affair.
Paxton's former chief of staff, Katherine "Missy" Cary, testified Monday that she warned Paxton that an affair "can open one up to bribery and misuse of office, misuse of state time," which are among the impeachment counts. Cary said the alleged affair affected morale in the office — especially since Angela Paxton had at one point been calling and asking about his schedule, which made staffers "uncomfortable."
In addition to being present at the hearing, Angela Paxton shared a kiss with Ken Paxton before it began.
What does Ken Paxton's alleged affair have to do with his impeachment?
Mateer testified that in 2018, Ken Paxton revealed the affair in a meeting with senior campaign staff and the staff of the attorney general's office. Angela Paxton helped organize and attended the meeting, according to Mateer. He said Ken Paxton "asked for forgiveness" and described it as "emotional and sympathetic."
Mateer said he believed that Ken Paxton had "repented" and he assumed going forward that the affair was over. When he learned the alleged affair had resumed, he said it "answered one of the questions I kept struggling with."
"Why would General Paxton jeopardize all this great work that we've been doing in the Office of the Attorney General?" Mateer continued. "Why would he be engaged in these activities on behalf of one person, all these different things?"
Mateer said that when he learned the woman with whom Paxton allegedly had the affair was employed by Paul, he.
In evidence released by the House impeachment managers, Andrew Wicker, a former top aide to Ken Paxton who came on in 2019, said he had been told about an "intervention" about the alleged affair.
Wicker, who has been described as a "second son" to Ken Paxton, told House impeachment managers that while Ken Paxton's home was being renovated — renovations which the House impeachment managers allege were paid for by Paul — the attorney general stayed at the Omni Barton Creek in Austin. Wicker said the security detail had been called off, so he would personally pick up Ken Paxton and take him to work.
In 2020, Wicker's family was also staying at the Omni Barton Creek when they ran into Ken Paxton and a woman at the elevator.
"No words were said," Wicker said. "General Paxton walked out, shook my hand, shook my father's hand and the lady walked out. Didn't acknowledge us or say anything. Just, you know, walked out."
According to Wicker, when he described the encounter to communications staffer Marc Rylander, he said, "Great, she's back."
On Monday, Cary, Paxton's former chief of staff, testified about how Paxton's alleged affair affected the attorney general's office.
"The ethics advice in 2018 was when you try to keep things secret when you are a statewide elected official who is running for office, it can be ethically, legally and morally challenging — and it was beginning to bleed over to people in the office," Cary testified.
According to Cary, around 2018, there were complaints in the office from security and travel details about hours and conducting non-state business, such as the alleged affair. Further, Cary said Angela Paxton used to call the office regularly to ask about her husband's schedule or his whereabouts, which led to complaints from the office that they were "uncomfortable."
Cary had run into Paxton one day at lunch with the woman with whom he allegedly had an affair — who Paxton had said was his realtor — and testified that she confronted Paxton in the summer of 2018. He confirmed he was having an extramarital affair, she testified, and she said he was "contrite" and "listened to what I had to say very carefully" about the "ethical implications" of having an affair.
"We talked about the risk involved in secrets of this type of magnitude," she said. "There's ethical risks, there's political risks, there's legal risks … these things can open one up to bribery and misuse of office, misuse of state time."
Cary recounted the 2018 meeting with Paxton and Angela Paxton with the top aides, during which Cary said "my heart broke" for Angela Paxton. She said she believed he had ended it, but she learned in 2019 that the alleged affair was still going on. Cary testified that she spoke to him again about the alleged affair, but Paxton was "frantically upset" and said he "still loved" the woman with whom he was allegedly having an affair.
"Imagine if we impeached everyone here in Austin that had had an affair — we'd be impeaching for the next 100 years," Buzbee said. Cary declined to respond. "Just because someone had an affair doesn't mean that they're a quote criminal, does it? That would be incredibly hypocritical, would it not, if somebody said this guy is a criminal because he had a marital indiscretion?"
Cary said she would not say something like that.
Can Angela Paxton vote as a juror in the impeachment trial?
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is presiding over the trial, noted on the first day of the impeachment trial that there have been special rules put in place for Angela Paxton, who under normal circumstances would serve as a juror as she is a state senator. Since she is married to Ken Paxton, she will not be a juror and she cannot be party to any private deliberations.
Over the summer, Angela Paxton said she would be present every day of her husband's impeachment trial. "As a member of the Senate, I hold these obligations sacred and I will carry out my duties, not because it is easy, but because the Constitution demands it and my constituents deserve it," Angela Paxton said in a statement in June.
The Texas state Constitution states that "each member of the Senate shall be in attendance when the Senate is meeting as a court of impeachment."
A two-thirds majority — 21 of the 31 senators — is needed to remove Ken Paxton from office, and Republicans have a 19-12 majority in the chamber. Although she will not be voting, her presence means there are still 31 senators on the floor, effectively giving a vote against removing Ken Paxton.
What has Angela Paxton said about the alleged affair?
Patrick has put in place a gag order about the trial, which Ken Paxton referenced at a picnic over the weekend in Collin County. Other than when she said she would attend the trial, Angela Paxton has not addressed the allegations.
She introduced her husband at that picnic, describing him as "the love of my life, my best friend, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton."
Who is Angela Paxton?
Prior to her election to the state Senate in 2018, Angela Paxton was a math teacher and a school counselor. She and Ken Paxton met when they were students at Baylor University, and they have said that June 1 is what they call "I Love You Day," or the anniversary of the day they first told each other they love each other.
The Paxtons, who married in 1986, have four children and three grandchildren. Angela Paxton was put up for adoption when she was born, something she has said has influenced her strong anti-abortion views.
"I'm blessed to be an adoptive child and to be here," she said in a 2016 speech. "I have been very aware my whole life that that might not have been the case … but this young woman chose life for me."
The Paxtons were among the founders of the Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, where Angela Paxton mentored young women on how to dress modestly but with style, according to Texas Monthly. The couple now belongs to the Plano megachurch Prestonwood Baptist Church.
A staunch conservative, Angela Paxton was known on the campaign trail for singing a song that included the lyrics: "I'm a pistol-packing mama whose husband sues Obama."
The 2018 primary was. at that point, the most expensive in the state's Senate history, according to the Texas Tribune. But she was backed by Patrick, the lieutenant governor, who said she had "been a friend for years."
Angela Paxton's district went for former President Donald Trump by more than 9 points in 2016. But she won by barely 2 points in 2018 against Democrat Mark Phariss, who had sued the state of Texas after being denied a marriage license, according to the Texas Tribune. Despite Angela Paxton's win, the GOP lost its supermajority in the state Senate and lost 12 House seats.
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