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Texas Sen. Angela Paxton barred from voting in husband’s impeachment trial

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton, the wife of Attorney General Ken Paxton, is barred from voting in the impeachment trial that could lead to her husband’s permanent removal from office, the Republican-controlled Senate decided Wednesday.

The rule settles a question that has loomed over the Texas Capitol since Ken Paxton last month became just the third sitting official to be impeached in Texas’ nearly 200-year history.

Angela Paxton, a Republican, has previously not said whether she would recuse herself from voting in the trial where her husband of more than 30 years will face charges that include abuse of power and accepting bribes.

The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 5.

Under the rules, Angela Paxton is required to attend the proceedings but is prohibited from participating in any way, including closed session or deliberations. The rules do not explicitly mention Angela Paxton but say a spouse is “considered to have a conflict” under the Texas Constitution.

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Angela Paxton has not publicly commented on the accusations against her husband, who is also under FBI investigation and has attacked the impeachment as an attempt to disenfranchise Texas voters who elected him to a third term last year.

Paxton, who in 2020 sought to baselessly overturn President Joe Biden’s victory, is suspended from office pending the outcome of the Senate trial.

He has kept a low profile since being impeached in May by the state House and has broadly denied the accusations laid out in 20 impeachment articles. Many of the charges surround Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, a Paxton donor who was indicted in a Texas federal court this month on charges of making false statements to banks.

In Texas, the leader of the senate is the lieutenant governor, making the job one of the most powerful in any U.S. statehouse. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has declined to comment on the impeachment charges but has pledged fair and transparent proceedings.

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Under the rules, senators are prohibited from publicly speaking about the case.

But Patrick, who will serve as the trial’s presiding officer, carries into the proceedings financial entanglements with the accused. Ken Paxton has yet to repay a $125,000 campaign loan that Patrick gave him in 2018, when Paxton’s reelection appeared vulnerable after being indicted three years earlier on securities fraud charges. Paxton has pleaded not guilty and the case has yet go to trial.

Patrick said the outstanding debt wouldn’t influence his judgement.

“I have loaned money and given money to a lot of different candidates,” he has said.

The impeachment charges also allude to a senator, Republican Bryan Hughes. Paxton is accused of using him to request a legal opinion that would protect Paul from losing properties in foreclosure. Another impeachment concerns Paxton’s extramarital affair with a woman who was employed by Paul and has also worked for Republican Sen. Donna Campbell.

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