House Resolution 16, filed by a far-right Republican (Photo by Maggie Q. Thompson / Texas House of Representatives)
Oh, thank god someone thought of this. Rep. Tony Tinderholt, one of the far-right representatives in the House Republican Caucus, filed a resolution Monday that apologizes to Attorney General Ken Paxton for the impeachment trial he recently survived.
“Be it resolved that the House of Representatives of the 88th Texas Legislature, 3rd Called Session, hereby extend a formal apology to Attorney General Ken Paxton,” the resolution reads. “And, be it further resolved that an official copy of this resolution be prepared for Attorney General Ken Paxton as an expression of sincere contrition by the Texas House of Representatives.”
Needless to say, the House Republican majority that voted for Paxton’s impeachment has not expressed contrition. After Paxton’s acquittal in September, Rep. Andrew Murr, the head of the House General Investigating Committee that recommended impeachment, released reams of information supporting the committee’s allegations that Paxton accepted bribes, among many other offenses. Paxton responded by saying he would file criminal charges against Murr and the other impeachment managers for releasing his address.
Murr is laughing off the threat. “Ken Paxton is trying to distract from the legal and ethical controversies that he has created for himself,” he said, explaining that Paxton’s address has been public information for years, available on Travis County’s property tax database and elsewhere. “Growing up on a ranch, I was taught to keep the manure on the outside of my boots. Mr. Paxton’s baseless threats about filing criminal complaints are horse manure, and they are filling his boots full.”
Tinderholt’s resolution follows the playbook Paxton’s defenders adopted early in the scandal. It makes no effort to deny the allegations against him. It argues instead that the process by which the allegations were litigated was flawed. His resolution complains that the House Investigating Committee “failed to put witnesses under oath during its investigation and then failed to follow the rules of evidence in alleging wrongdoing, basing its case on hearsay that would never be admissible in a court of law. Attorney General Paxton was not given the opportunity to defend himself to the Investigating Committee.”
Tinderholt leaves out the fact that Paxton did get an opportunity to defend himself in the Senate trial. But the attorney general never took the stand. Furthermore, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick did put the witnesses who testified against Paxton under oath, and they repeated the same allegations to the Senate that they had to the House investigators. These witnesses are expected to get a chance to do so again – it’s widely believed Paxton will face a federal trial over the allegations in the near future.
But in Tinderholt’s world, the stains on Paxton’s reputation have been washed away. “The fair and deliberative Senate trial exposed the haste, flimsiness, and unfairness of the House impeachment process and Attorney General Paxton was duly vindicated,” the resolution reads. “The impeachment process in the House was a debacle that undermined its legitimacy and integrity, and in order to restore public faith, it must make amends for the grievous errors committed.”
Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.