Texas AG Says 'Drunk' State House Speaker Should Quit

Speaker Dade Phelan reveals AG Paxton is being investigated for alleged corruption
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2023 7:36 PM CDT

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called for the resignation of another senior Republican Tuesday, alleging that state House Speaker Dade Phelan had presided over the chamber "in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication." A video clip widely shared over the weekend shows Phelan appearing to slur his words on Friday night toward the end of a 14-hour legislative session, the Texas Tribune reports. "It is with profound disappointment that I call on Speaker Dade Phelan to resign at the end of this legislation session," Paxton said in a statement on Twitter. Phelan, he said, "has proven himself unworthy of Texans’ trust and incapable of leading the Texas House."

Hours later, Phelan responded with a bombshell, announcing that Paxton, who is already being investigated by the FBI, has been the subject of a monthslong corruption investigation by an ethics panel, the AP reports. "The motives for and timing behind Paxton's statement today couldn’t be more evident," Phelan spokesperson Cait Wittman said in a statement. "Mr. Paxton’s statement today amounts to little more than a last ditch effort to save face." Phelan said a House General Investigating Committee has been looking into Paxton's "alleged illegal conduct" linked to a $3.3 million settlement with whistleblowers who were fired after they reported him to federal authorities for alleged corruption.

Phelan has publicly criticized the settlement, saying Texas taxpayers shouldn't have to pay it, the Dallas Morning News reports. State lawmakers are expected to block the settlement before the legislative session ends on Monday. Phelan did not address the intoxication allegations. His defenders have said he was tired at the end of the long session and he spoke normally before and after the time when he seemed to be slurring. (More Texas stories.)

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