Speaking Monday on American Family Radio, Harrison said Phelan – a fellow Republican – led an impeachment process that was stained by "staggering incompetence and dishonest conduct." In addition to taking on Phelan, Harrison said the state auditor needs to investigate the cost to taxpayers for impeachment proceedings in the House and the impeachment trial in the Senate.
On Saturday morning, the Senate acquitted Paxton on 16 articles of impeachment alleging corruption and bribery. No single article received more than 14 of the required 21 votes to convict.
In a scathing rebuke of the other chamber, Senate leader Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, said the vote to send articles of impeachment to the Senate "happened in only a few days with virtually no time for 150 members to even study the articles." No witnesses were placed under oath or cross-examined by counsel for Paxton.
Harrison told show host Jenna Ellis that he was "proud" to vote against impeaching Paxton back in May, when the House vote occurred.
"I took to the floor of the House and begged my colleagues, who are being lied to and pressured by the liberal leadership of the Texas House, not to vote to impeach this guy with no evidence because the precedent that it would set could destroy Texas for generations to come if we're going to throw out due process and throw out a presumption of innocence," Harrison shared.
The Texas Tribune reported that among the issues chasing Paxton was his relationship with Austin real estate investor Nate Paul. Former senior officials under Paxton testified that the attorney general abused his office by investigating and harassing Paul's enemies, delaying foreclosure sales of his properties and obtaining confidential records on the police investigating Paul.
Paul responded with favors for Paxton.
Only two Senate Republicans voted to convict Paxton, though Sen. Royce West, a Dallas Democrat, told The Tribune that the outcome was very much in doubt. He contended that several Republicans voted to acquit Paxton only after they saw impeachment lacked the necessary votes in the end.
AFN talked Monday with Cathie Adams, a former chair of the Republican Party of Texas. In contrast to West, she says the final outcome of the Senate trial didn't surprise her in the least.
"Because the jury is not an impartial jury – they are elected officials," she explains. "This is the way that the trial had to go, because the trial had to be according to the Senate rules, and the Senate was to be the jury. [This result] is not a surprise at all."
And according to Adams, there's been a "tiff" between Paxton and Phelan for some time.
"… There is no question about it that Dade Phelan … is not a staunch conservative – and furthermore, he and [Paxton] are at odds with one another," she offers. "Not only is Ken Paxton more conservative than Dade Phelan, but Phelan places Democrats as chairmen of committees. Why would you do that when you have a Republican majority?"
Biden, with his own impeachment issues, got involved in Paxton's
Paxton alleged federal influence and took on Phelan in a statement after his acquittal.
"The sham impeachment coordinated by the Biden administration with liberal House Speaker Dade Phelan and his kangaroo court has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, disrupted the work of the Office of Attorney General and left a dark and permanent stain on the Texas House," Paxton said. "The weaponization of the impeachment process to settle political differences is not only wrong, it's immoral and corrupt."
According to Harrison, House leadership conducted an impeachment investigation under a veil of secrecy.
"We had no idea. We were not told. I literally had 20 articles for impeachment dropped on my desk. I was given no evidence, no opportunities to talk to a witness. Members of the Texas House of Representatives had no idea there was even a secret impeachment investigation going on," he said.
Speaker Phelan is a Republican from District 21, which represents most of three counties in Southeast Texas. Republicans hold an 86-64 edge in the Texas House, yet the House voted 121-23 in May to refer Paxton to the Senate for trial.
Republican Party chair Matt Rinaldi told American Family Radio in May that Democrats hold a great amount of influence in the House because of odd Texas traditions of governance in which the House majority party often appoints opposition party members to key positions.
Forty percent of committee chairmanships were held by Democrats in the most recent session, Rinaldi said.
"We tried to alert everybody in the first week of the session to the fact that in today's political climate we can no longer give Democrats power like we have in the Texas House traditionally," Rinaldi said. "Texas is the only state in the country which I'm aware of where Republicans control a chamber and then voluntarily appoint Democrats to positions of power."
Not surprisingly, that generosity with influence became a roadblock to Republican goals.
Harrison said the Texas House near the end of its legislative session turned its back on several conservative bills before going all-out to oust Paxton.
"We hadn't passed bills to secure the border. The speaker of the House killed those bills. The leadership team of the Texas House chose to kill bills to ban COVID mandates. They chose to kill school choice. They chose to kill bills that ended tyrannical emergency executive powers," the GOP state lawmaker listed.
"Instead, they chose to do something which had the effect of removing from office, of overturning an election: the election of a recently reelected attorney general who has proven that he's up to the most important job we've got right now – fighting the tyranny and the unconstitutional overreach of the Biden administration."
Not the first time for Phelan to feel a hot seat
Harrison's call for Phelan's resignation isn't the first time the speaker has felt heat from fellow Republicans.
Some in the party spent millions to replace Gov. Greg Abbott and other House Republicans in the 2022 elections, The Texas Tribune reported. Then, Phelan was defiant in victory.
"Voters across Texas delivered a resounding message that the GOP represents their values up and down the ballot," he said in a statement.
Harrison posted a statement to X, formerly Twitter, quickly after the Paxton impeachment was settled.
"The only honorable thing to do at this point after killing Republican priorities all session and prioritizing this impeachment is for the speaker to step down," Harrison said Monday. "We need bold conservative leadership in the Texas House that does not take their marching orders from Democrats."
9/19/2023 - Another comment from Adams added.