Patrick on Paxton impeachment: ‘Millions of taxpayer dollars’ wasted

(The Center Square) – Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Monday made good on a promise in calling for an audit of all impeachment expenses to get a full picture of how much the House General Investigating Committee cost Texas taxpayers, including the GIC’s secret investigation it began in March, the House impeachment proceedings and all House and Senate trial-related costs.

On Saturday, Patrick gave statement after the Senate voted to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton of all charges. He chastised the House managers, Speaker Dade Phelan, and House General Investigating Committee chair Andrew Murr, R-Junction, for bringing impeachment charges without evidence to support their charges. He said the House violated the rules of evidence and ignored previous House precedent. In addition to calling for an audit, he also called for the legislature to propose a constitutional amendment to be put to voters that would create impeachment processes so “an impeachment should never happen again in the House like it happened this year.”

“Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this impeachment,” Patrick said. “I will call for a full audit of all taxpayer money spent by the House from the beginning of their investigation in March to today,” the conclusion of the trial on Saturday. “We will provide our costs as well that were forced on us by the House impeachment. One big difference is that the Senate did not pay a huge team of outside lawyers and investigators.”

On Monday, Patrick sent an official request to the state auditor to report all expenses from the state legislature related to the impeachment trial of AG Paxton.

He wrote to State Auditor Lisa Collier requesting that her office “immediately begin a special audit, pursuant to Government Code Section 321.0135, to determine the total amount of financial expenditures, encumbrances and future unpaid obligations by the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas Senate, and all other legislative entities receiving appropriations through Article X of the State General Appropriations Act, and the Office of the Attorney General, for the time period beginning March 1, 2023 to conclude October 15, 2023.

“To be clear, the goal is to determine the absolute total cost to the state of preparing for and conducting this trial from the beginning through its conclusion. This must detail all expenses, including but not limited to, investigators expenses, document production and assembly, attorney expenses, witness fees, travel, food and lodging. This list is illustrative, not exhaustive. Please determine and report on all expenses; if there are invoices outstanding, we seek to know what they are and when they will be received.”

He also requested that she prioritize the audit and that when her report is finished to send a copy to each member of the legislature “as soon as possible.”

House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, remained unapologetic after the Senate’s vote, saying the Senate “didn’t do its job.” He also said in a statement that Patrick’s “tirade disrespects the Constitutional impeachment process.”

Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, also remained unapologetic after the Senate vote and said the House brought “uncontested, uncontroverted evidence of Mr. Paxton’s corruption. We did our duty to bring the evidence into the sunlight through this impeachment process.” He also said, “we met our burden of proof.”

When asked by a reporter if he would have done things differently, he replied, “I would not do anything differently.”

Both Phelan and Murr already have Republican primary opponents. Several House members have called on Phelan to resign.

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