Jan 24, 2024 - News

Ken Paxton's impeachment trial expenses

Photo Illustration of Attorney General Ken Paxton with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton spent almost $2.4 million on legal services around the time of his impeachment trial last year, his latest campaign finance report shows.

Why it matters: The Texas Legislature spent at least $4.2 million in taxpayer money on impeachment proceedings, mostly on outside lawyers who prosecuted the case, according to the Texas Tribune.

  • Paxton's campaign finance report sheds more light on the costs of the North Texas native's impeachment defense — though his use of campaign money is within "the permissible use of campaign funds," campaign law expert Roger Borgelt tells Axios.

Catch up quick: Paxton was acquitted by the Texas Senate after the Texas House accused him of illegally using his office to benefit an Austin real estate developer and firing some of the top deputies who reported him to the FBI and other agencies.

Details: Paxton's latest campaign finance report shows a big portion of the funds he raised last year went toward "legal services" from several firms across Texas.

  • Payments included $100,000 to Anthony Buzbee and $250,000 to Cogdell Law Firm — the Houston-based lawyers who led his defense team.
  • Stone Hilton PLLC, run by two lawyers who took unpaid leave from the attorney general's office to help with Paxton's impeachment defense, was paid almost $1.8 million between July and November for legal services, per the campaign report.

Zoom in: Dallas-based Scheef & Stone was paid roughly $200,000 from campaign funds between August and October.

Between the lines: Paxton raised almost $2.2 million during the last six months of 2023, which helped offset the money he spent on legal services. He still had $1.9 million in his campaign coffers at the end of 2023.

Of note: Officeholders nationwide and in Texas are allowed to spend campaign funds on legal services related to their office, including when they are under investigation or a defendant in a trial.

  • Paxton hasn't publicly said how much his impeachment proceedings cost him and if he had to spend any personal funds.
  • "I'm not being paid by the public. That's all you need to know," Buzbee said shortly after he was named Paxton's lead impeachment lawyer.

Meanwhile: Paxton announced last week that he won't contest a whistleblower lawsuit against him, saying he was "fully vindicated" after his impeachment acquittal. He's still trying to avoid giving a deposition in the case, however.

What's next: Paxton faces trial in April on securities fraud charges stemming from his work for a McKinney technology company.

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