A Texas House committee aired findings Wednesday that Attorney General Ken Paxton has committed a series of crimes spanning years while in office. The investigation has been in progress for months, though its existence wasn't publicly known until Tuesday, the AP reports. Paxton is a Republican, as are the leaders of the House General Investigating Committee, whose hearing included a presentation of accusations against Paxton for more than three hours. In the end, the committee didn't take any action or say whether it plans any. Paxton called the investigators' testimony false.
The investigators said they found Paxton accepted bribes from a real estate developer, then fired four deputies for reporting the bribes to law enforcement officials, per the Hill. Paxton has asked the legislature for $3.3 million in state money to settle a lawsuit filed by those former deputies, per KWTX. The attorney general also is accused of trying to arrange a job for a woman with whom he was having an affair. Paxton's response to the investigation has including calling for the Republican House speaker to resign, saying he presided over the chamber while drunk. "It is not surprising that a committee appointed by liberal Speaker Dade Phelan would seek to disenfranchise Texas voters and sabotage my work as Attorney General," he said in a statement.
"It is alarming and very serious that we are having this discussion into why millions of taxpayer dollars have been asked to remedy" Paxton's reported misconduct, said committee Chair Andrew Murr. In addition, Paxton has been under an FBI investigation and a state felony indictment on securities fraud charges since 2015. "I would say this is as detrimental and important a scandal as we've seen in Texas political history," said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, per the New York Times. "Not just because of what happened, but because of how long it's been going on and how Paxton has been able to survive it." (Read more ken paxton stories.)