AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called on House Speaker Dade Phelan to resign at the end of the legislative session next week. He questioned the conduct of his fellow Republican after claims that Phelan appeared impaired while overseeing debate early Saturday morning on the House floor.
Paxton released a statement Tuesday afternoon on social media urging Phelan to step down from his post leading the Texas House Representatives, saying he did so after “much consideration” and with “profound disappointment.”
“Texans were dismayed to witness his performance presiding over the Texas House in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication,” Paxton said. “His conduct has negatively impacted the legislative process and constitutes a failure to live up to his duty to the public.”
KXAN reached out Tuesday to Phelan’s office for comment about Paxton’s statement, but has yet to receive a response. Earlier this week, Phelan’s office declined to comment after an unidentified advocacy group sent a mass text message to several journalists calling for members to remove him from leadership. The video below includes the moment that some political advocacy groups and conservative activists are pointing to when they accused Phelan of conducting business while intoxicated. It came near the end of a lengthy debate over a bill to ban diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public universities.
In the past, Phelan attracted criticism from some of the most conservative factions of his party for appointing Democrats to chair committees and prioritizing bills with which they do not agree. Paxton referenced some of this inter-party criticism in his statement Tuesday.
“Texans were relying on the House to pass critical conservative priorities including protecting the integrity of our elections and preventing Chinese spies from controlling Texas land,” Paxton said. “His failures as Speaker have created a credibility crisis for all Republican candidates and for our entire Party.”
The legislative session is set to end May 29.
Earlier this year, attorneys for four whistleblowers who sued after Paxton fired them asked the Texas Supreme Court to restart the clock on the attorney general’s appeal of their case. They alleged they lost their jobs in retribution for accusing him of malfeasance to law enforcement. Paxton’s lawyers said they would not agree to setting a deadline to finalize a $3.3 million legal settlement by the end of the legislative session in May. That multi-million dollar agreement would need to be approved by state lawmakers.
However, according to reporting from The Texas Tribune, Phelan told reporters he did not support the move and did not expect the House’s budget plan to include money for a settlement payment.