Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial kicks off today. Collin County voters are still standing by him.
Since the Texas House of Representatives impeached Ken Paxton last May, the suspended Republican attorney general has lost many allies.
But as the Texas Senate kicks off Paxton’s impeachment trial, voters in Paxton’s Collin County seem to still have his back, even fighting other Republicans over the embattled attorney general.
Jan Bolt, a Collin County Republican voter, told The Texas Newsroom recently that he didn’t agree with Paxton’s impeachment.
“I think this is retribution for the lawsuits he’s brought against the Biden administration,” Bolt said while sitting with his wife on a bench outside the old courthouse in McKinney. “Matter of fact, I’m certain that’s why he’s being treated this way.”
Paxton was impeached in May by the GOP-led Texas House. Republicans there said the evidence against Paxton is too hard to ignore.
Recent evidence released by House impeachment managers include transcripts, contracts and Uber records that show Paxton allegedly used his office to try to intervene in a federal investigation against one of his political donors.
Many of these allegations were previously known or made public by news outlets before the impeachment inquiry.
Paxton still won his reelection in 2022. He has denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
Bolt said he voted for Paxton.
“I knew that there were some allegations against him at that time although they weren’t in the full — he wasn’t being processed at that time,” Bolt said. “What he was saying was the things I wanted to hear.”
Some Republicans are careful about fully absolving Paxton.
“I don’t know if Ken Paxton is guilty or not,” said Paul Chabot, the president of the McKinney Area Republican Club. “I haven’t seen all of this information.”
But Chabot and others take issue with how the Texas House impeached Paxton.
“To me it seems very corrupt, almost like out of a third world country,” Chabot said.
He said the Texas House rushed its process by only giving members 48 hours in May to review the evidence before voting to impeach.
But Paxton is still popular among GOP voters.
According to a recent poll by UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project, only 24% of Republicans think Paxton should be removed from office. Across the state, however, half of Texas’ registered voters want him out.
Barry McCollom, a Democrat from Collin County, thinks Paxton’s behavior has been enabled by Republican voters.
“Paxton has gotten reelected while he’s been under indictment,” McCollom said, referring to Paxton’s 2015 indictment for securities fraud. “People would think, ‘Oh these charges are just politically founded,' and that’s become the thing that they say when it’s obvious that they are crooked as a barrel of snakes.”
Now the attention turns to the Texas Senate where 21 Senators will decide whether to vote to convict him. That means at least 11 Republicans or more will be needed to join Democrats to remove Paxton.
Nadine Donnelly, who works at a medical office in McKinney, said the impeachment trial is a way to hold Paxton accountable.
“An attorney general should kind of not be above the law but should be the one enforcing the law,” Donnelly said. “So, if you are not doing what you are meant to be doing, then you probably should not be the attorney general anymore.”