(The Center Square) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday called on House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, to resign after he appeared to be intoxicated and could barely hold the gavel during official proceedings on the House floor on Friday.
Phelan’s speech earlier in the day and later in the day is noticeably different, official video of House proceedings shows. Several people shared the official video on social media.
As members are voting, Phelan appears to slur his words and can’t appear to stand straight.
The Texas Tribune published a video showing the difference in his speech during the day.
On Sunday, anonymous text messages were sent to Texans with a video clip of the proceedings telling recipients to call their state representative to say, “Drunk Dade has got to go.” Other texts referred to him as PWI, “presiding while intoxicated.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Paxton issued a statement posted on social media calling on Phelan to resign. He said, “After much consideration, it is with profound disappointment that I call on Speaker Phelan to resign at the end of the legislative session,” which ends May 29.
“Texans were dismayed to witness his performance presiding over the Texas House in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication. His conduct has negatively impacted the legislative process and constitutes a failure to live up to his duty to the public,” he continued. “Texans were relying on the House to pass critical conservative priorities including protecting the integrity of our elections and preventing Chinese spies from controlling Texas land.”
The Senate last month passed a bill banning foreign nationals from countries named national security threats from purchasing land in Texas. The bill was blocked in the House State Affairs Committee.
Phelan’s “failures as Speaker have created a credibility crisis for all Republican candidates and for our entire Party. While I hope Speaker Phelan will get the help he needs, he has proven himself unworthy of Texans’ trust and incapable of leading the Texas House.”
Paxton also wrote a letter to the House General Investigations Committee requesting it to open an investigation into Phelan for “violation of House rules, state law, and for conduct unbecoming his position.”
Roughly two hours later, the same committee published a letter stating that it had been investigating Paxton’s budget request to pay a $3.3 million settlement his office reached with former employees who alleged wrongdoings that Paxton has denied.
Earlier in the year, Phelan and others said using taxpayer money to fund the settlement wasn’t a good use of funds.
Phelan’s spokesperson, Cait Wittman, questioned the timing of Paxton’s announcement, issuing a statement saying, “The motives for and timing behind Paxton’s statement today couldn’t be more evident. Mr. Paxton’s statement today amounts to little more than a last ditch effort to save face.”
The House committee announced during a brief public meeting Tuesday afternoon its panel had unanimously voted to issue two subpoenas related to “Matter A.” One subpoena was issued to “John Doe No. 6” and another to Paxton’s office.
The committee also said it will convene tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. to hear testimony about the investigation it had begun related to Paxton’s office’s request for $3.3 million “of public money to pay a settlement resolving litigation between [his] agency and terminated whistleblowers.”
The letter also instructed Paxton’s office to preserve documentation related to all communication regarding the settlement. It also directs Paxton to “suspend all of your destruction policies for all documents…” Failure to do so “may constitute spoilation of evidence and subject you to legal claims for damages of monetary sanctions.”
The drama unfolded on Tuesday less than one day before legislative deadlines end at midnight on Wednesday and with less than one week left in the legislative session.
This is the difference between Republicans and Democrats. If the Speaker and Attorney General had both been Democrats, the incident would have been treated like it was no big deal and the Speaker would have claimed it was a reaction from medication he was taking. The press would praise him for how he handled the situation and Republicans would be chastised for pouncing on the guy.
OR they would claim we are something IST for even bringing it up.