Impeachment Price Tag: Texas House Spends Millions of Tax Dollars on Impeachment

December 18, 2023
Andrew McVeigh
88th Legislative Session, Audit, Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton, Spending, Transparency

After months of delay following Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s call for a financial audit of the effort to impeach and remove Attorney General (AG) Ken Paxton this year, new revelations about the actual cost to taxpayers surfaced last week. These revelations raised major criticisms, particularly due to the staggering amount of taxpayer dollars expended in the process. 

The Texas House began an effort to remove Paxton earlier in the year, which culminated in a House vote impeaching Paxton and a Senate trial that found him not guilty on all charges. Upon the conclusion of the trial, Patrick called for financial transparency and accountability on the entire process.

On Thursday, invoices, 228 pages of invoices, to be precise, were released by the Texas House Business Office, detailing the House’s use of taxpayer money on the impeachment. The invoices showed that the House spent roughly $3.8 million on the impeachment process, most of which was paid to three law firms hired by the House to assist them at $500 an hour. 

This $3.8 million impeachment price tag is of particular note, considering that it is more than the $3.3 million settlement cost between Paxton and former AG office employees who claimed unjust termination, which was one of the main issues that House Impeachment Managers used to start the impeachment in the first place. 

This cost is also in stark contrast to the Senate’s total cost during the trial, which was only $435,000. 

In response to the release of the invoices, AG Paxton issued a statement that said, in part, “This is just the tip of the iceberg. Whether it’s costs from the House or Senate, or the overall impeachment session costs many millions [of taxpayer dollars] were incurred.”

Some of the House costs included thousands of dollars paid to a public relations company called “New West Communications,” which specializes in “media relations, crisis communications, strategy & audience identification, and message development and deployment.”

Four House lawmakers, Representatives Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian), Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth), Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) and Steve Toth (R-Conroe) signed and sent a letter to Chairman Murr of the General Investigating Committee, pointing out that “New West Communications,” is led by former Speaker Joe Straus’s Communications Director and a former top communications staffer of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, and requested that a full investigation into the expenses be completed. 

Despite the release of the invoices by the House, Lt. Gov. Patrick pointed out on Monday that the House has still not complied with the State Auditor’s office and submitted all of their spending-related documents. 

For many, this irresponsible use of taxpayer money is just par for the course from a Legislature that passed the largest spending increase in Texas history, almost $18 billion dollars in corporate welfare, and property tax relief that left much to be desired. 

Ultimately, when citizens witness their hard-earned money being funneled into a seemingly excessive and politically charged endeavor, that wasted millions of dollars, and the lack of transparency, public confidence in the State Legislature will continue to erode.

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