Two months before the 2018 midterm elections, Attorney General Ken Paxton admitted to having an extramarital affair. Holding his wife’s hand, he re-committed to his marriage to Senator Angela Paxton.
One of the most dramatic events in Texas politics is coming to a head. Infidelity is expected to be at the center of Paxton’s once-in-a-century impeachment trial, which begins on Tuesday and could air the sleazy details of the life of the Christian conservative as he sits near his wife and her Senate colleagues who will serve as jurors.
The leaders of the impeachment effort in the House of Representatives claim that Paxton committed criminal acts by concealing the affair from his wife and the intensely devout citizens who have supported him for two decades.
Based on over 4,000 pages of papers made public last month, Impeachment managers claim that Paxton routinely misused his authority to rescue the failing enterprises of real estate investor Nate Paul amid an FBI raid, impending bankruptcy, and a slew of connected litigation. In return, Paul is said to have employed Paxton’s girlfriend, allowing her to relocate to Austin, and assisted Paxton in secretly meeting with her using a shared Uber account. Managers of the House’s impeachment effort say he was afraid an affair would end his political career, and they refer to his use of “burner phones” and encrypted email accounts as proof.
In 2002, Paxton was elected to the Texas House thanks mainly to a “pretty straightforward strategy: Get the church out to vote,” as he has put it. He has consistently fought for Christian causes, including the removal of Planned Parenthood’s sex education materials from public schools and the co-authorship of a state constitutional amendment protecting individuals and businesses from lawsuits for exercising their religious freedom to refuse to perform services.
Since day one, religious conservatives have rallied around Paxton because of his unwavering commitment to upholding their values and beliefs. As attorney general, Paxton has championed conservative Christian legal and political issues, hiring fellow Christians to staff the agency and making it the vanguard of the broader cultural war being waged by conservative Christians.
Conservative Christians are dubious, thinking that Paxton is the target of the same deep state witch-hunt they attribute to Trump’s impeachment and criminal charges. As long as conservative Christian values are met, they can overlook both men’s moral shortcomings.