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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Ken Paxton’s wife Angela attends his impeachment trial as witness says his alleged affair is "relevant"

Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton on Tuesday has so far attended both days of the impeachment trial of state Attorney General Ken Paxton, her husband, who is accused of misusing his office to cover up an alleged affair, among other things — and of using his relationship with a campaign donor to benefit the alleged affair.

The Texas Senate is deciding whether to convict Ken Paxton on 16 articles of impeachment, which include bribery, misuse of public office and unfitness of office. If he is convicted of any one of them, he will be removed as attorney general and could be barred from running for office again.

While Ken Paxton is not being impeached over the alleged affair, his former top aide, Jeff Mateer, testified Wednesday that he believed it is “relevant” to the accusations in the articles of impeachment. Paxton is accused of abusing his office to benefit Austinreal estate developer Nate Paul. In return, the articles of impeachment allege, Paul hired the woman with whom Ken Paxton was allegedly having an affair.

In addition to being present at the hearing, Angela Paxton shared a kiss with Ken Paxton before it began.

What does Ken Paxton’s alleged affair have to do with his impeachment?

Mateer testified that in 2018, Ken Paxton revealed the affair in a meeting with senior campaign staff and the staff of the attorney general’s office. Angela Paxton helped organize and attended the meeting, according to Mateer. He said Ken Paxton “asked for forgiveness” and described it as “emotional and sympathetic.”

Mateer said he believed that Ken Paxton had “repented” and he assumed going forward that the affair was over. When he learned the alleged affair had resumed, he said it “answered one of the questions I kept struggling with.”

“Why would General Paxton jeopardize all this great work that we’ve been doing in the Office of the Attorney General?” Mateer continued. “Why would he be engaged in these activities on behalf of one person, all these different things?”

Mateer said that when he learned the woman with whom Paxton allegedly had the affair was employed by Paul, he resigned the following Friday.

In evidence released by the House impeachment managers, Andrew Wicker, a former top aide to Ken Paxton who came on in 2019, said he had been told about an “intervention” about the alleged affair.

Wicker, who has been described as a “second son” to Ken Paxton, told House impeachment managers that while Ken Paxton’s home was being renovated — renovations which the House impeachment managers allege were paid for by Paul — the attorney general stayed at the Omni Barton Creek in Austin. Wicker said the security detail had been called off, so he would personally pick up Ken Paxton and take him to work.

In 2020, Wicker’s family was also staying at the Omni Barton Creek when they ran into Ken Paxton and a woman at the elevator.

“No words were said,” Wicker said. “General Paxton walked out, shook my hand, shook my father’s hand and the lady walked out. Didn’t acknowledge us or say anything. Just, you know, walked out.”

According to Wicker, when he described the encounter to communications staffer Marc Rylander, he said, “Great, she’s back.”

Can Angela Paxton vote as a juror in the impeachment trial?

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is presiding over the trial, noted on the first day of the impeachment trial that there have been special rules put in place for Angela Paxton, who under normal circumstances would serve as a juror as she is a state senator. Since she is married to Ken Paxton, she will not be a juror and she cannot be party to any private deliberations.

Over the summer, Angela Paxton said she would be present every day of her husband’s impeachment trial. “As a member of the Senate, I hold these obligations sacred and I will carry out my duties, not because it is easy, but because the Constitution demands it and my constituents deserve it,” Angela Paxton said in a statement in June.

The Texas state Constitution states that “each member of the Senate shall be in attendance when the Senate is meeting as a court of impeachment.”

A two-thirds majority — 21 of the 31 senators — is needed to remove Ken Paxton from office, and Republicans currently have a 19-12 majority in the chamber. Although she will not be voting, her presence means there are still 31 senators on the floor, effectively giving a vote against removing Ken Paxton.

What has Angela Paxton said about the alleged affair?

Patrick has put in place a gag order about the trial, which Ken Paxton referenced at a picnic over the weekend in Collin County. Other than when she said she would attend the trial, Angela Paxton has not addressed the allegations.

She introduced her husband at that picnic, describing him as “the love of my life, my best friend, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.”

Who is Angela Paxton?

Prior to her election to the state senate in 2018, Angela Paxton was a math teacher and a school counselor. She and Ken Paxton met when they were students at Baylor University, and they have said that June 1 is what they call “I Love You Day,” or the anniversary of the day they first told each other they love each other.

The Paxtons have four children and three grandchildren. Angela Paxton was put up for adoption when she was born, something she has said has influenced her strong anti-abortion views.

“I’m blessed to be an adoptive child and to be here,” she said in a 2016 speech. “I have been very aware my whole life that that might not have been the case … but this young woman chose life for me.”

The Paxtons were among the founders of the Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, where Angela Paxton mentored young women on how to dress modestly but with style, according to Texas Monthly. The couple now belongs to the Plano megachurch Prestonwood Baptist Church.

A staunch conservative, Angela Paxton was known on the campaign trail for singing a song that included the lyrics: “I’m a pistol-packing mama whose husband sues Obama.”

The 2018 primary was. at that point, the most expensive in the state’s Senate history, according to the Texas Tribune. But she was backed by Patrick, the lieutenant governor, who said she had “been a friend for years.”

Angela Paxton’s district went for former President Donald Trump by more than 9 points in 2016. But she won by barely 2 points in 2018 against Democrat Mark Phariss, who had sued the state of Texas after being denied a marriage license, according to the Texas Tribune. Despite Angela Paxton’s win, the GOP lost its supermajority in the state Senate and lost 12 House seats.

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