Lt Gov Dan Patrick ‘s bias influenced the outcome of Paxton's acquittal
Lt Governor Dan Patrick, as leader of the Texas Senate, conducted a sham trial while claiming to be unbiased in the impeachment hearing of Ken Paxton and had us all fooled.
Immediately following the vote to acquit Paxton on the 16 charges, and from the dais where he presided as the "impartial" Judge in the case, Dan Patrick revealed to Texans his bias immediately with an emboldened speech admonishing the House for their handling of the impeachment.
But in fact, it was in the Senate where corruption was pervasive amongst Paxton, Patrick, and the like. No matter how perfect the case in the House had been, an acquittal was likely in the cards for Paxton. We can look at Patrick's calculated decisions and clearly see how impeachment was dead on arrival in the Senate.
Patrick could not be an unbiased judge and should have stepped aside. The Rules passed by the Senate allowed Patrick to appoint a jurist to serve as the Court's presiding officer. Paxton and Patrick have a long history as political allies, and most alarmingly, they are both funded by billionaires Tim Dunn and Wilkes Brothers through the Defend Liberty PAC. The PAC made a $3M combined contribution and forgivable loan to Patrick in June, leading up to the trial. Patrick is not an attorney and has no experience, and this was a critical decision, as Patrick's bias could not be overcome.
Patrick veiled his intentions by claiming he would do his "duty", but he made several critical decisions in the trial, which provided an advantage for the defense.
Patrick ruled on the first day that Paxton would not be compelled to testify nor required to attend the trial. This was the first signal of his intention to shield his friend, Paxton, from public scrutiny. A more obvious bias was his tolerance of the ridiculous and ongoing "hearsay" objections made by Paxton's attorney, Tony Buzbee, which contributed to confusion during the line of questioning around several vital witnesses. It was also revealed following the trial that Patrick had ruled in favor of the defense regarding the admission of critical testimony by Paxton's mistress. The bribery charges related to the mistress were at the heart of why Paxton was helping his friend Nate Paul, and there was no doubt the mistress's testimony would be damning to the defense.
And, then, there are the seriously concerning conflicts of interest that were allowed to influence the trial. The impeachment charges were extraordinary in that three Senators and the Lt Governor himself had conflicts of interest related directly to the events involved in this case.
Angela Paxton, of course, as the spouse and a party to some of the bribery charges intertwined through the case, was allowed to participate in the trial as an observer only. The Senate rules removed Senator Paxton from the deliberations. Still, she was allowed to sit on the floor during the entire trial, while Patrick ruled that General Paxton did not need to participate. Senator Paxton's presence on the floor certainly would have a chilling effect on some of the more sensitive discussions around the mistress and the issues with home renovations, as she had been a direct party to those events.
Two other Senate members, Sen Bryan Hughes and Senator Donna Campbell, also had conflicts of interest. Hughes was the "straw requestor" mentioned in Impeachment Article II, and his name was given during the trial testimony. Paxton's extramarital affair with Laura Olsen drove the allegation of the bribery charge outlined in Article IX. Olsen had worked in the Senate as a member of Donna Campbell's staff.
In no other trial would a jury member be allowed to have any involvement in a case and be allowed to sit as part of the jury. Because of these conflicts, these members should have recused themselves from deliberations and voting. But they did not.
The Counting of the Votes
Conflict of interest issues are truly significant because they impacted the fairness of the trial overall, and most importantly, they had a direct impact on the final vote,
The Senators, as the jury, cast their individual votes, and a conviction would have required a 2/3 supermajority vote of the body. It was determined that Mrs./Sen Paxton would not be allowed to vote, but she was included in the total needed to reach the supermajority. With her present "not voting," the 2/3 threshold was 21; if she had recused herself, the threshold would have been 20. Even more interesting is that if all three Senators with conflicts had "recused", as they should have, the vote needed would have been only 19.
Republicans Campbell and Hughes both voted to acquit on all 16 charges. Vote counts leaked to the media have said there were 20 votes to convict behind closed doors, but without the 21 being there, some of the fringe voters were afraid to go against Patrick and Paxton.
There are a couple of other events that should cause concern. Since the jury was not sequestered at any time during the trial, they had access to their phone, email, and social media, which meant that they were open to influence. Seven of the Senators, who ultimately voted to acquit, were seen having dinner together in Austin on the evening prior to closing arguments. Patrick confirmed in a post on social media that he "consulted" with two of the jurors on the night before the verdict was voted on after sending the jury home with strict instructions not to talk with anyone.
The biggest miscalculation the House made was to believe that this trail ever had a shot in the Texas Senate. The House pursued impeachment because they were alarmed by the evidence they discovered during the investigation of Paxton's treatment of the whistleblowers.
Patrick clearly manipulated this solemn, important constitutional process provided by our state constitution and manipulated the proceedings to save Paxton, his political ally, and his donors. He has also used this trial to launch a political war against the House, when, in fact, the House and the Senate are independent bodies by design, to ensure that the interests of Texans are protected.
During the trial, the House attorney Rusty Hardin mistakenly interchanged Patrick and Paxton's names during the questioning of witnesses. They portrayed Rusty as senile for this, but maybe Rusty was on to something. Patrick and Paxton are one and the same. They are Politicians who will do anything to stay in power. And they did.
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