Tensions between Republican Texas House speaker and state's attorney general reach boiling point
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Hilton Anatole on July 11, 2021, in Dallas, Texas. - Brandon Bell/Getty Images North America/TNS

Over the years, far-right Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has not only made enemies among Democrats, but also, among fellow Republicans. Paxton's years in Texas' state government have been tumultuous; nonetheless, he was elected to a third term in 2022, defeating Democratic challenger Rochelle Mercedes Garza by around 10 percent.

Paxton's third term is seeing considerable tensions between him and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a conservative Republican.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that on Tuesday, May 23, Phelan announced that the Texas House General Investigating Committee has, for months, been probing "alleged illegal conduct" by Paxton. Conversely, Paxton called for Phelan's resignation after a video emerged of Phelan drunkenly addressing lawmakers.

Phelan has flatly denied Paxton's accusation, attacking it as "a last-ditch effort to save face."

Paxton was under investigation long before Phelan made his May 23 announcement. In 2015, a Texas grand jury indicted Paxton on criminal fraud charges, but his trial was delayed multiple times.

The bitter exchanges between Paxton and Phelan, according to AP reporter Jake Bleiberg, have "jolted" Texas "near the frantic end of a legislative session that has again laid bare the raw divisions between Republicans who control every level of power in the state government."

"At stake for Paxton in the final days of the session is whether lawmakers will approve using $3.3 million in taxpayer dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by the attorney general's accusers," Bleiberg explains. "Paxton, who also separately remains indicted on securities fraud charges from 2015, has denied wrongdoing."

Paxton is controversial for a variety of reasons, including his efforts to overturn the election results in four states that President Joe Biden won in 2020: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Paxton, making false claims of widespread voter fraud, filed a lawsuit in the hope of getting the electoral votes for Biden thrown out in those states and given to former President Donald Trump. But the case was dismissed on December 11, 2020.

Democratic Texas State Rep. Chris Turner told the New York Times that Paxton is "the last person" who should be calling for Phelan or anyone else to resign.

Turner argued, "This is someone who is under multiple indictments, under an FBI investigation, tried to overturn a presidential election. So, Ken Paxton ought to tend to his own affairs."