Odessa Headline's Opinion:
Texas House leadership has previously turned a blind eye to criminal and unethical conduct among their own ranks but was quick to make false accusations against their political foe.
State Representative Brooks Landgraf told several fibs in explaining his vote to impeach now vindicated Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The first was that he reviewed the evidence against Paxton, but at trial we discovered there was no evidence, only hearsay and accusations. The second lie was that “this wasn’t a vote to oust anybody from office.” The gaslighting in that sentence is astounding, because a vote to impeach is at its heart a vote to oust someone from office. Paxton was immediately suspended for months after Landgraf’s vote.
Lastly, he claimed this wasn’t a vote about the “good work” Paxton does in office, but most of the charges against him was to prevent him from investigating potentially corrupt federal and state officials who may have illegally oppressed a private businessman. We may never know, but it demonstrates “the good work” that voters selected Paxton to do.
What we do know is that the House leadership hid their investigation behind closed doors, never placed witnesses under oath, didn’t allow Paxton’s attorneys to cross examine them, and in a matter of hours with no time to think or read forced the members to vote on the impeachment and it became a question of loyalty to the House leaders, not loyalty to their constituents.
The ironic thing about this sham proceeding is it revealed the stark hypocrisy that has become prevalent in Austin.
House leaders, including Landgraf, have either been a part of or turned a blind eye to criminal conduct and immoral behavior amongst their own ranks for sometime. Only when a political foe does something they don’t like, do you see them suddenly clutch their pearls and claim they have some high standard of ethics.
The record proves this statement true.
For example, former Democratic State Representative Poncho Nevarez was made chair of the powerful House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee by Republicans, which has oversight jurisdiction over the Department of Public Safety.
In 2019, Nevarez was caught on camera smuggling a bag of cocaine in a state representative envelope into the United States from Mexico, dropping it on the floor of an airport.
Was there an investigation by the General Investigation Committee? Did the House vote to expel him? Did the speaker remove him as chair? No, he was allowed to remain in office as chairman and gracefully serve out his term, and is still commenting on Texas politics.
Then there were the affairs.
Honestly, there are too many of those to count. To quote defense attorney Tony Buzbee, “if we impeached people in Austin over affairs we’d be impeaching for the next 100 years.”
Odessa Headlines even reported on allegations of an affair between Landgraf and another woman. After a state lawmaker requested the House General Investigation Committee to launch an investigation to see if House Rules or state laws were broken during the course of the alleged affair, they buried their heads in the sand and refused.
Most recently, Landgraf was named top ten worst lawmakers by Texas Monthly after the statewide magazine caught him using the power of his office to benefit clients at his law firm this legislative session. Was there an investigation? No, once again there was not. Why? Because Landgraf is one of Speaker Phelan’s top lieutenants.
We also must point out that this session, it appeared Speaker Dade Phelan was presiding drunk over the House Chamber, which prompted Paxton to call for his resignation. Shortly thereafter, he was impeached.
Our point is, millions of voters just re-elected Ken Paxton. His opponents, some of whom were political friends of the House leadership, lost. And Landgraf’s willingness to overturn the will of the people while he and his friends enjoy a lack of accountability is the worst form of hypocrisy and cronyism we have seen.
Not to mention his disrespect for the will of the people.
Landgraf should apologize for so recklessly ignoring the will of the people of Texas, and for being untruthful to his own constituents.
In addition, he should support Lt. Gov Dan Patrick’s calls for reforms to ensure this reckless and wasteful process never occurs in our state again.
Lastly, we applaud Senator Kevin Sparks for finding Paxton not guilty on every charge, and standing with leaders like Senator Ted Cruz who called this sham proceeding out from the very start.