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Want to attend Ken Paxton’s Senate impeachment trial? Well, you'll need to get a ticket.

the texas senate chamber
Julia Reihs

News outlets from all over Texas — and the nation — will descend on Austin next month to cover the historic impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The trial is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on Sept. 5 in the Texas Senate.

The Senate Gallery will be open to the public; however, those wanting to watch the proceedings in person must secure a ticket in advance.

The Texas Senate on Tuesday released guidelines for public access to Paxton's trial. The document states “all persons seeking admission to the Senate Gallery must have a ticket to enter.”

The trial proceedings will have two different, ticketed sessions — one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Tickets will be distributed to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you want one, you’ll have to get to the Capitol early. Tickets for the morning session will be released each day starting at 7:30 a.m. Afternoon tickets will be distributed 45 minutes before the reopening of the Senate gallery.

Those golden ticket holders who make it into the gallery also have to follow some additional rules: no food or beverages, no cameras, and no talking or clapping. Cellphones and other electronic devices will have to be turned off or set to vibrate.

Rule violators will be immediately removed from the Senate Gallery and won’t be allowed back in that day.

According to the guidelines, the Senate is implementing these rules “to ensure open access by the public and preserve the integrity of the trial proceedings in which the members of the Senate serve as members of the court.”

What’s behind Paxton’s impeachment?

Paxton, a Republican who was first elected state attorney general in 2014, was impeached by the Texas House of Representatives in May.

The 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton contain a variety of accusations, ranging from constitutional bribery to abuse of official capacity to misuse of official information.

House investigators accused Paxton of illegal acts in order to try and protect Austin businessman Nate Paul, Paxton’s friend and campaign donor, while Paul was being investigated by the FBI.

According to evidence submitted by the House Impeachment Managers, Paxton tried to use his office to intervene in the federal investigation. That’s despite his top staff repeatedly telling him not to.

Multiple top staff members eventually reported Paxton to the FBI. In response, Paxton either fired them or pushed them out. Four staffers successfully sued Paxton over their dismissals, and are currently awaiting payment from the lawsuit.

Paxton and his lawyers have denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the former Texas Capitol reporter for The Texas Newsroom.
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