Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asks state auditor to review Ken Paxton impeachment

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick hands off the second article of impeachment in the trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton at the Texas Capitol on Saturday, Sep. 16, 2023.
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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick requested a full financial audit of the impeachment proceedings of Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday, making good on a vow he delivered after Paxton was acquitted of all impeachment charges in the Texas Senate.

In a letter sent to State Auditor Lisa Collier, Patrick requested that her office immediately begin to determine “the total amount of expenditures, encumbrances and future unpaid obligations” by the Texas House, Senate, Office of Attorney General and other “all other legislative entities.”

“The goal,” Patrick wrote, “is to determine the absolute total cost of the state of preparing for and conducting this trial from the beginning through its conclusion. This must detail all expenses” including those for investigators, travel, food and lodging.

Collier did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The state auditor is an independent governmental agency that investigates allegations of fraud and impropriety.

Patrick’s request follows his blistering speech at the conclusion of Paxton’s trial, in which he said the House and Republican Speaker Dade Phelan “rammed through the first impeachment of a statewide official in Texas in over 100 years while paying no attention to the precedent that the House set in every other impeachment before.”

Phelan responded by accusing Patrick — who presided over the Senate trial — of “confessing his bias and placing his contempt for the people’s House on full display.”

The speaker’s office declined to comment Monday on Patrick’s official audit request.

Patrick’s Monday request is the latest development in a long-running war between the House and Senate — as well as the Texas GOP’s far-right and slightly-more-moderate wings — that has sharply escalated since Paxton’s impeachment by the House in May. The acrimony is expected to continue as lawmakers prepare for a potential special session, likely next month, over school voucher legislation that has for years been a source of conflict between the chambers.

The House impeachment team’s lead attorneys — Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin — each were paid $500 an hour for their work, a rate that legal observers have noted was a steep discount given their legendary status in Texas legal circles. It’s still unclear who paid for Paxton’s high-profile defense team, which included well-known attorneys Tony Buzbee and Dan Cogdell.

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