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Texas attorney general's wife may vote on removing him from office

After the Texas House of Representatives voted last week to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton for alleged bribery, obstruction of justice and abuse of office, the senate must now serve as jury in his impeachment trial —and among the senators who will decide the fate of the attorney general is his wife, Angela Paxton.

Ken Paxton has been suspended after being accused, among other things, of using his position to secure a job for a woman with whom he was having an affair. The state's Constitution says that all senators must now serve as jurors in his trial, putting Angela Paxton at the center of the state's political storm.

Rep. Andrew Murr, the head of the House committee that was investigating Paxton, did not answer reporters' questions on Monday if Angela Paxton would recuse herself from the vote, which could remove the attorney general from office, and she did not return a request for comment. 

Ken Paxton denies the allegations. Over the weekend he posted photos on social media with some of his children and grandchildren, writing "there's nothing better than a weekend spent with loved ones."

Texas Attorney General Impeachment
Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, wife of impeached state Attorney General Ken Paxton, sits in the Senate Chamber at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, Monday, May 29, 2023.  Eric Gay / AP

What does Ken Paxton's alleged affair have to do with the impeachment?

Many of the allegations against Paxton stem from his relationship with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, a campaign donor. According to the House Investigating Committee, the attorney general misused his office to help Paul with a fraud lawsuit, against the advice of his deputy attorney general.

In return, the articles of impeachment against Paxton allege Paul rewarded Paxton with a home remodeling and that he "benefited from Nate Paul's employment of a woman with whom Paxton was having an extramarital affair."

"Paul received favorable legal assistance from, or specialized access to the office of the attorney general," the articles of impeachment said. 

According to Rep. Ann Johnson, a member of the House Investigating Committee, having the San Antonio woman employed in Austin made her "more convenient" to Paxton.

Erin Epley, lead counsel for the House Investigating Committee,  said that when members of the attorney general's staff found out about the affair, they were retaliated against. 

"There are also people on staff who, for example, found out about the affair and confronted Attorney General Ken Paxton who ended up with a pay raise but moved out of their scope of employment with less access with less control," Epley said. 

Did Angela Paxton know about the alleged affair?

Epley said Angela Paxton found out about the affair in 2019. 

"The affair was not public," Epley said last week. "There was a desire to keep it private, according to these interviews, and the interviews establish that now-Senator Angela Paxton learned of the affair in 2019, that the affair ended briefly, but then it resumed and was underway again by 2020." 

Who is Angela Paxton? 

According to her website, Angela Paxton was adopted as a child and became the first person in her family to attend college. She and Ken Paxton met as students at Baylor University and they married in 1986.

According to the Texas Tribune, June 1 is "I love you day," or the anniversary of the first time Ken told her he loved her. 

Angela and Ken Paxton have four adult children and three grandchildren.

Angela Paxton was a math teacher and school counselor before she successfully ran for her husband's former state senate seat in 2018, representing the Dallas suburbs. The district had gone for former President Donald Trump for more than 9 points in 2016, but she won by barely 2 points in 2018, according to the Texas Tribune, although the Texas GOP lost 12 House seats in that election and lost their supermajority in the state Senate. 

On the campaign trail, she was known for singing a song that included the lyrics: "I'm a pistol-packing mama whose husband sues Obama." 

According to an affidavit from 2022, Angela Paxton drove her husband out of state to avoid being issued a subpoena. 

Angela Paxton has not recused herself in other matters regarding her husband, including voting on the budget, which sets his salary. She has also been accused of introducing legislation that would directly benefit her husband. 

What happens now with Ken Paxton's impeachment trial — and will Angela Paxton recuse herself? 

Although Republicans hold a 86-64 majority in the Texas House, the chamber voted overwhelmingly to impeach Paxton, 122-23, with one Republican and one Democrat voting present. 

Republicans hold a 19-12 majority in the state Senate, and removal from office requires two-thirds of the chamber. 

On Monday, the Texas House appointed 12 impeachment managers, who will present the government's case against Paxton. The Senate trial will begin no later than Aug. 28, Murr said Monday. 

When asked by CBS News Texas' Jack Fink if Angela Paxton will recuse herself, Murr, one of the impeachment managers, replied: "I don't have a comment on that at this time."

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