The Case in Brief: In May, the Texas House voted 121–23, with all but one Democrat present in the chamber joined by sixty Republicans, to impeach Attorney General Kenneth Paxton Jr. on twenty counts. Paxton, the state’s chief law enforcement officer, is alleged to have taken bribes and abused his office to help a pal and campaign donor, a flashy Austin real estate mogul named Nate Paul. Since then, Paxton has been suspended from office. If two thirds of the voting members of the Texas Senate find him guilty of any of the charges—they will consider sixteen of the twenty the House brought—he will be permanently removed from office.
What are the stakes? They’re sky high, not just for Paxton but also for other powerful Texans. A conviction would probably spell the end of Paxton’s once promising career in Republican politics. It would also reflect poorly on the influence of staunch Paxton supporters, led by billionaire megadonor Tim Dunn, whose acolytes have been working mightily—and apparently legally—to tamper with the jury. They have publicly and privately threatened to lavishly fund primary challengers against any Republican senators who might vote against Paxton. A conviction would also put Dan Patrick, who rules the Senate with an iron fist and will preside over the trial of Paxton, in hot water with Dunn. The oilman’s political action committee gave Patrick $1 million in campaign cash and $2 million in loans—repayment of which the PAC can later forgive if it is pleased—shortly after Paxton was impeached. Dunn has been a generous supporter in the past, but that’s thirty times more than his PAC gave Patrick last year, when the lieutenant governor was actually up for election.
Even if Paxton is acquitted, he is considered likely to face federal criminal charges for some of the alleged misdeeds that led to his impeachment. And he would still face a state criminal trial that will take place after the impeachment proceedings, a full eight years after his indictment on felony securities-fraud charges.
An acquittal by the Senate, especially if followed by a conviction in federal court, would seem to set Patrick and his Republican majority up for major pain and embarrassment. Whether that outcome would hurt GOP senators at the polls remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s indisputable that an acquittal—given the piles of damning evidence against Paxton—would set a rotten example for the schoolchildren of Texas, other public officials, other lawyers, and so on. That prospect seemed very much on the minds of both Republicans and Democrats in the Texas House, led by Speaker Dade Phelan, when they voted overwhelmingly to indict Paxton. But in Patrick’s Senate, such considerations have taken a back seat to political calculations, mostly involving the wishes of big GOP campaign donors and primary voters.
Paxton is arguably the most powerful state AG in the country, a Donald Trump loyalist who, among many other actions on behalf of the far right, unsuccessfully sued four swing states in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. That loss bought him the love of the 3 percent of Texans who decide Republican primary elections, who see Paxton as eager to stand up and fight not only against Democrats but also against Republicans insufficiently loyal to the MAGA cause. Paxton has Trump’s enduring loyalty: the former president has called the impeachment “election interference.”
In Texas, the case reflects the splintering of the Republican Party, with the far right, funded by the likes of Dunn and fellow oilman Farris Wilks, increasingly at odds with more-centrist conservatives funded by figures such as Houston billionaire Dick Weekley and his influential political action committee Texans for Lawsuit Reform. TLR tried to beat Paxton at the polls, heavily backing a primary challenger, state Supreme Court justice Eva Guzman, when she ran against the incumbent attorney general in 2022 and lost.
- The Charges
- Who Is Nate Paul?
- The Judge and Jury
- Behind-the-Scenes Power Players
- The Witnesses
- The Lawyers
The sixteen articles of impeachment the Senate will consider charge Paxton with abusing his office to help Paul, the developer, out of a major jam, in return for various favors. Paul, whose house the FBI raided in 2019, was indicted in June 2023 for “making false statements for the purpose of influencing the actions of financial institutions on applications for loans.”
The evidence gathered by the House in its pre-impeachment investigation suggests that Paul got Paxton to use his office to impede an FBI investigation of Paul’s business practices. Paxton is accused of interceding on Paul’s behalf—and against the interests of the state of Texas—in exchange for Paul paying to renovate Paxton’s house and securing a job for his mistress. In legalese, Paxton is charged with disregard and dereliction of official duty, misapplication and misappropriation of public resources, constitutional bribery, obstruction of justice, false statements on official records, conspiracy and attempted conspiracy, unfitness for office, and abuse of public trust. Paxton has declared he is innocent of all charges and has said he went out of his way to help Paul because he knew what it felt like to be unfairly prosecuted.
Indeed, Paxton’s history of alleged malfeasance long predates his impeachment. Before he was elected AG, he was infamously caught on a security camera pilfering a $1,000 Montblanc pen left in a tray at the Collin County Courthouse metal detector by another lawyer. (He subsequently returned it to the owner after a deputy confronted him.) More to the point, Paxton is also facing two 2015 felony indictments on charges of securities fraud. He has managed to delay those cases from proceeding for eight years, though a meeting to set a trial date has been scheduled in Houston for later this year. Paxton stands accused of soliciting investors for a McKinney-based tech company without disclosing that he was being paid to promote the stock. Punishment could include as many as 99 years in prison.
And there’s more: there’s testimony that he charged a tie, shirt, and $600 sports jacket to his hotel room while a guest of the Texas Attorney’s Association, which he let foot the bill. He’s come under fire from legal ethicists for his work as an attorney ad litem in a probate case involving the heirs of storied oilman H.L. Hunt. And his office has been beset by allegations of incompetence. It had to dismiss a series of human-trafficking cases after procedural breakdowns. Numerous employees have resigned alleging dysfunction, and the office has had trouble filling staff vacancies.
So why the focus on Paxton now, after years of alleged impropriety? In late 2020, a group of eight top Office of the Attorney General staffers, most of them respected conservatives chosen directly by Paxton, went to the FBI with their concerns about the AG’s bizarre behavior in support of Paul. Four who were then fired sued for damages to their reputations and careers later that year, and also demanded an apology for Paxton’s description of them as “rogue employees.” Paxton, after more efforts to discredit the group, agreed to settle the suit for $3.3 million in February—but expected the Texas House to approve the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for his supposed sins. This turned out to be a major error on the part of the penny-pinching AG: House members, many of whom have long chafed at Paxton’s arrogance and showboating, decided to embark upon an investigation before paying the bill. And here we are.
Meet the Cast of Characters
The Developer With Delusions of Grandeur: Nate Paul, a burly 36-year-old, was once an Austin real estate wunderkind, “The 30 Year Old Texas Tycoon Who is Building A Real Estate Empire,” according to a 2017 profile in Forbes. He boasted that his business, World Class Holdings, at one point had $1.2 billion in assets, and would announce his new properties by draping from their roofs banners emblazoned with hip-hop mogul DJ Khaled’s slogan: “Another One.”
Things went south in a big way in 2018 and 2019, when he declared five bankruptcies. In one bankruptcy case, a court-appointed receiver in October 2022 alleged that Paul “misappropriated tens of millions of cash and real estate” and “created a dense web of corporate shells to disguise and conceal misappropriation of cash and real estate from courts, receivers, trustees, creditors and investors.” Paul has previously denied all wrongdoing.
Paul befriended Paxton—even helping him set up a now infamous Uber account under a fake name, which Paxton seems to have used to visit his alleged mistress, Paul’s Austin hacienda, and Trump hotels in multiple out-of-state cities. When the FBI started nosing around his business, Paul went to his pal, to whom he had donated $25,000 in campaign funds in 2018, with a matching donation from the PAC of a law firm representing him. He allegedly wanted Paxton to help kill, or at least discredit, the investigation. Despite dire warnings to stay away from Paul, from colleagues in the attorney general’s office who were watching with growing alarm, Paxton continued to use his office to advance Paul’s interests, House impeachment managers allege.
The Not-So-Impartial Judge: The Senate is ostensibly the jury in this trial, but Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is the judge, and his death grip on the Senate means that what he wants out of the trial he will get. A long-time radio show host, famous for getting an on-air vasectomy, Patrick rapidly accrued power by wielding both carrots and stiletto-honed sticks and has made himself into perhaps the most influential public official in Texas: It’s long been said there’s really only one senator, as his wish becomes the command for all other members.
Patrick has promised, but not exactly delivered, “total transparency” in the proceedings so far. He has no experience as a trial judge or lawyer, so the rules, established by him and the Senate behind closed doors, allow him to appoint outside counsel to assist him. The anti-Paxton camp had high hopes in late August when Patrick appointed Republican and former state appeals court judge Marc Brown for the job. Brown has a sterling reputation for fairness—perhaps too fair, in this case: he withdrew after his $250 donation to Paxton’s 2022 Republican primary opponent, Eva Guzman, came to light. (That amount was chicken feed compared to the $3 million in donations and loans given to Patrick by the pro-Paxton group Defend Texas Liberty, funded in large part by Dunn, which somehow didn’t come up.) The outside-counsel job has now gone to former Fifth Court of Appeals Justice Lana Myers, an establishment Republican whose donations were ostensibly more carefully vetted.
Judge Patrick is, however, in a tight spot. His base is Paxton’s base—in 2018 his campaign gave the attorney general $250,000, including a since-forgiven $125,000 loan. His donors are also Paxton’s donors, and both are dukes in Donald Trump’s Texas fiefdom. But Patrick also knows the attorney general could be a political rival for, say, governor, and might even think acquitting Paxton could be a political liability. (That sending Paxton packing could be good for the people of Texas hasn’t really come up.) If that’s the case, the question is: can he get rid of the AG without looking like he’s the one getting rid of the AG?
The Jury That Is Not Tamper-Proof: The consensus among hardened capital politicos is that the impeachment trial is, to use a current buzzword, performative. There are 30 voting senators, 18 of whom are Republicans. But all 31 senators will be present (more on this below), and two thirds of those present are needed to remove Paxton from office. Assuming twelve Democrats vote unanimously to fire the AG, the pro-impeachment camp would need nine Republican votes to send Paxton packing. That is unlikely because of the strenuous exertions of the pro-Paxton Republican donor base (see entries below on Dunn, Wilks, et. al.).
Revenge is already in the air. Fresh-faced Dallas County Republican Party chair candidate and “Moms Love Freedom” activist Lauren Davis took a turn on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast to suggest that six state senators could suffer the tortures of the damned—a.k.a. a well-funded primary opponent—if they supported conviction of Paxton. The six are Kelly Hancock who represents North Richland Hills, Bryan Hughes of Mineola, Mayes Middleton of Galveston, Lubbock’s Charles Perry, Georgetown’s Charles Schwertner, and, from Muenster, Drew Springer.
Schwertner, for one, is feeling the pressure for sure. An ad aired in his district during the Republican presidential debate urging him to “stand up to the left and stop the impeachment of our attorney general.” For convenience, his office phone number was displayed. The spot was paid for by a recently formed company that uses the same political consulting firm as Paxton.
Are any of the six likely to resist the pro-Paxton press and vote to convict him? All are hard-line Republicans, but opportunism is not to be discounted. Some are rumored to be on the shortlist to replace Paxton should he be removed.
What About Conflicts of Interest?
It has been said that Texas legislators don’t so much shy away from conflicts of interest as grab them with both hands. Those who will decide Paxton’s fate are no exception. There are at least three senators—all Republicans—who are entangled with the accused.
First, the most obvious: Angela Paxton, Ken’s wife. For weeks after the House voted to impeach, observers wondered whether Angela—a self-described “pistol-packin’ mama” with a husband who “sues Obama” who narrowly won a seat in the Senate in 2018—would be allowed to serve as a juror in the trial. Angela maintained a studious silence about every aspect of the proceedings while Patrick initially indicated that he wanted her to cast a vote. Then in late June, the Senate settled the question by passing rules that bar her from doing so. However, state law requires that she attend the proceedings, adding yet another subplot to the drama: Angela will have a front-row seat to tales of her husband’s infidelity, ethical misdeeds, and alleged crimes. With her present but not voting, 21 votes will still be needed to convict her husband.
Second, Senator Bryan Hughes of Mineola, a friend, former roommate, and political ally of Ken Paxton’s. A lawyer, he also features in the second impeachment article—as the unwitting “straw requestor” Paxton recruited to help Paul head off the sale of his properties. At the request of Paxton’s staff who needed cause to weigh in on the matter, Hughes asked the attorney general’s office for guidance on whether local officials could limit attendance at foreclosure sales based on the COVID-19 pandemic. Under pressure from Paxton, whistleblowers would later allege, staff lawyers at the agency rushed out an opinion on a Sunday that local officials could indeed limit attendance, thus helping Paul fend off foreclosure. (According to staffers, Angela Paxton requested they publicize the opinion in a press statement.)
In exchange for such legal favors, according to House investigators, Paul remodeled the Paxton home and hired Ken’s alleged mistress so the attorney general wouldn’t have to drive to San Antonio to see her. So, in other words, Hughes—an aw-shucks East Texan with a winning smile who has carried some of the most extreme legislation in the Senate, including authoring the infamous abortion bounty bill—may have played a key role, even if unwittingly, in one of the more salacious chapters of L’affaire Paxton. Under the rules passed by the Senate, Hughes will participate in the impeachment. He has promised that he will be impartial. If Paxton is removed by the Senate, Hughes is probably on Governor Abbott’s shortlist to fill the attorney general seat.
A third conflict of interest involves Senator Donna Campbell, aka Doctor Donna, a New Braunfels physician who was elected to the Senate as a tea-party conservative in 2012. Campbell has long served as a faithful cog in the Dan Patrick machine, but now has thrown a wrench in the impeachment proceedings. Her conflict of interest centers on Laura Olson, Paxton’s alleged mistress who Paul hired in 2019. Olson also worked for Campbell from 2013 to 2020, sources close to the proceedings confirm. Campbell will be participating in the trial.
The Power Players
As mentioned earlier, the Paxton fight is currently pitting the evangelical far right wing of the Republican Party in Texas against more-centrist, pro-business Republicans who, over the years, have been losing ground. Think of Dan Patrick versus Dade Phelan; the Senate versus the House.
Backers of either side have wealthy funders. On the far right are the West Texas oil and gas magnates Dunn and Wilks, big supporters of Patrick and Paxton, who fund Defend Texas Liberty, the PAC that recently graced Patrick with $3 million in loans and contributions. Their mouthpiece is Jonathan Stickland—a former legislative troll, who has threatened to primary any Senator who opposes the AG.
Dunn and Wilks have long primaried legislators they see as Republicans in Name Only to push for their vision of Texas. During this year’s regular legislative session their big focus was a school voucher program, which would let parents use taxpayer funds to pay part of the cost of sending their children to private schools. Those close to former House Speaker Joe Straus say Dunn once suggested to Straus, who is Jewish, that only Christians should be in leadership positions.
On the other side of the Republican civil war are more moderate (by comparison) Republicans, exemplified by Texans for Lawsuit Reform, led by Houston billionaire Dick Weekley. For years TLR’s power was uncontested: These are the folks who broke the backs of the trial lawyers, limiting large civil judgments that once could be awarded to, say, workers injured on the job. More recently, TLR convinced the Lege to create business courts, which will have their own judges and operate independently from traditional civil courts.
The attorney general’s defense has claimed—loudly, until the gag order was instituted by Patrick—that TLR is behind the impeachment of Paxton. The organization supported one of Paxton’s primary opponents in 2022, and got badly bruised when it spent $3.1 million and lost. (Weekley alone kicked in another $1.1 million.) In turn, TLR has claimed that it has stayed out of this fight, and, indeed, so far Paxton’s defense has produced nothing but rumors to the contrary.
In late August, TLR issued a press release disavowing any involvement in the Paxton impeachment but simultaneously asking the Senators to look to their better angels for a solution. “There is an ongoing effort underway to intimidate the Senators into abandoning their constitutional obligations and acquitting Paxton before the trial even begins and the evidence has been presented,” the statement read. “These efforts are disrespectful of the constitutional impeachment process and insulting to the integrity of the Texas Senate. . . . TLR expects the Senate will conduct a fair, open and thorough trial and that each Senator will make her or his decision solely on the evidence presented.”
A Hollywood casting director could not have done a better job selecting Ken Paxton nemeses. The four whistleblowers who are suing him are white, male, and mostly devout Christians whose right-wing bonafides are beyond reproach. Quick primers on each:
Blake Brickman. The bearded, wavy-haired former deputy AG for policy and strategic initiatives under Paxton, is active in the Federalist Society, and was described by a former colleague as “a fearless defender of the rule of law and conservative values.” One of his quotes from earlier testimony is particularly damning: “I had worked for two prior elected officials that were extremely honorable people and neither of them got involved in public life for the benefits of being in public life. General Paxton is the exact opposite where he always cared about what trip he was going on, who was taking him to dinner. I mean, it was like a culture, it was very obvious, that I was very uncomfortable with, even before I knew about the Nate Paul situation. . . . He likes the perks of the office.”
David Maxwell Jr. Tall, gruff, plainspoken, and often seen wearing a white cowboy hat, Maxwell spent 24 years with the Texas Rangers, and is famous for solving the decades-long cold case of his sister’s murder. He worked in the attorney general’s office from 2010 to 2020, starting when it was led by Greg Abbott. Under Paxton, Maxwell served as director of law enforcement, and was not a fan of his boss according to pretrial testimony: “If you give him money . . . he’s going to do whatever you ask him to do, whether it’s legal or not. He’s—he’s selling influence is what he’s doing.” Paxton’s lawyers believe that Maxwell is the instigator who led his colleagues to blow the whistle on the AG’s alleged misdeeds and have targeted him for aggressive cross-examination.
J. Mark Penley. The broad-faced, crinkly-eyed graduate of the United States Air Force Academy worked as a civil litigator for nineteen years, and federal prosecutor for sixteen, before serving as deputy attorney general for criminal justice from October 2019 to November 2020. His money quote from pretrial deposition testimony: “Eight people went to the FBI, including me and told them that there was criminal behavior going on on the part of the Attorney General. He got rid of all of us within—all eight of us were gone in different ways within 45 days. He hired a whole new executive crew, sealed off access to the executive floor. . . . It’s a complicated story, but if you understand what was going on, this was outrageous conduct by an Attorney General that’s supposed to be the chief law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, not the chief lawbreaking officer.”
Ryan Vassar. Dark-haired and baby-faced, he joined the Federalist Society in law school while interning for Governor Rick Perry. The native of Big Spring served as deputy attorney general for legal counsel under Paxton, who, according to pretrial exhibits, initially refused to pass an unredacted FBI investigative file on Nate Paul to Nate Paul at Paxton’s request.
Other witnesses who may or may not testify
Brandon Cammack channels Gordon Gekko with his slicked-back hair and supremely confident manner. He had five years of experience when Paul’s lawyer recommended Paxton hire him to investigate Paul’s claim that he had been unfairly targeted in an FBI raid on his home. Despite Cammack’s lack of legal experience—at 34, he’d been a lawyer for just five years at the time—and despite lieutenants in the attorney general’s office finding Paul’s allegations to be unfounded and refusing to pursue an investigation, Paxton hired him. Pretrial documents suggest he then presented himself to potential witnesses against Paul as a subpoena-bearing special prosecutor for the attorney general, when he wasn’t. He charged the office—Texas taxpayers, that is—$14,000 for his services over a period of weeks. His attorney dad, Sam Cammack, with whom the son had long been feuding, did not think he was up to the job: “Somebody probably had to tell him how to get a subpoena served,” he told the Texas Tribune. “That’s how inexperienced this boy is.” Brandon Cammack did not respond to a request for an interview for this story.
Jeff Mateer is the current executive vice president and chief legal officer at First Liberty, the religious-right law firm based in Plano that became famous for defending bakers who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In 2017, the then GOP-controlled U.S. Senate decided against confirming Mateer for a federal judgeship, after derogatory comments regarding transgender children surfaced. Still, as described by co-whistleblower Mark Penley in pretrial documents, when Mateer served as first assistant attorney general he “ . . . was our boss, and I can’t speak highly enough of him, his personal character, his integrity, and his skill. He was an outstanding public servant.” He resigned right before accusing Paxton of criminal conduct. Paxton had a different version of events: “My own staff attacked me publicly . . . all I ever asked them to do was find the truth [about Nate Paul’s claims],” Paxton told the Southeast Texas Record. “I was about to put Mateer on emergency investigative leave for issues related to this particular incident. I think he found out about it and decided he wanted to leave and set the narrative.”
Laura Olson, a.k.a. the Alleged Mistress, dated a former San Antonio city councilman before connecting with Paxton. Olson is important to the prosecution in part to show that Paxton wasn’t living up to the Christian values he espoused. But her main relation to the proceedings is that, according to pretrial records, she received a $65,000-a-year job as “Director, Special Projects,” at Paul’s World Class Property Company in Austin. This is suggestive to prosecutors of a quid pro quo.
Andrew Wicker, a.k.a. the Second Son, is a former executive aide and personal assistant to Paxton. He overheard a building contractor for Paul utter the now famous line, “I will check with Nate,” a quote the prosecution sees as evidence that Paul paid for the renovations on the Paxton home. He also says that, while staying with his family at Austin’s Omni Barton Creek hotel, he ran into Paxton coming out of an elevator with Olson.
The Star Lawyers
If you believe it’s a given that Paxton will be back at his desk in October, then the most dramatic part of the trial will be watching some of the most famous lawyers in Texas work with and against each other. For most of them, this won’t be the first time.
For the Defense
Tony Buzbee. A multi-millionaire personal injury lawyer and former Recon Marine officer who headed a massive team of lawyers that successfully defended Governor Rick Perry in 2016 when he was indicted on state charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. Self-made, Buzbee lives in a mansion on River Oaks Boulevard and once parked a World War II–era tank out front, in the tradition of flamboyant Texas trial lawyers, much to the annoyance of his neighbors. He recently represented the masseuses who accused then Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct, and settled the case with Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin. The two men are not pals. A flashy dresser, with flashier cars and jewelry, he’s known to go from zero to sixty in seconds. He lost a bid for Houston mayor in 2019, and recently launched both a THC-infused seltzer brand and a run for city council. It’s hard to imagine him fielding calls about trash pickup.
Dan Cogdell. A protégé of the famous Richard “Racehorse” Haynes, with the parched, sardonic wit of Bill Murray, he serves as Paxton’s co-counsel on the eight-year-old fraud trial. The only attorney to win an acquittal in the myriad Enron prosecutions, he’s an expert of fraud and white-collar crime. He’s also known for the successful defense in 1994 of Clive Doyle, a survivor of the deadly Branch Davidian siege and fire in Waco who faced federal charges of murder and conspiracy. A lawyer’s lawyer, he’s highly respected by his peers and, in a world not known for professional generosity, is also almost universally well-liked. He’s also long known former Texas Ranger David Maxwell, above, so watch for that cross-examination.
The law firm of Stone Hilton. Six employees of the attorney general’s office got ethics rules waived to defend Paxton, including solicitor general Judd Stone and general litigation chief Chris Hilton. They tend to write scorched-earth pleadings.
For the Prosecution
Dick DeGuerin. One of the most famous criminal defense lawyers in Texas, he’s a protégé of the infamous Percy Foreman. He successfully defended former senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in a case of alleged official misconduct in 1994. He did the same for U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay whose conviction for laundering corporate contributions was overturned in 2013. He earned a split record while representing killer Robert Durst, scion of a famed New York City real estate family, who got off the first time on murder charges, but not the second. DeGuerin escapes often to his spread in Marfa, and poses in his official photo with a cowboy hat. He exudes “Liquid charisma,” in the words of a colleague.
Rusty Hardin. Arguably the most famous civil defense lawyer in Texas, he cut his teeth as a prosecutor in the take-no-prisoners Harris County District Attorney’s office of the 1970s. He has successfully represented notable sports figures who get themselves in big trouble, including Watson and Roger Clemens, who was accused of lying to Congress about his steroid use in 2008 and acquitted in 2012. Known for sartorial splendor and relentless cross-examination, he drove Anna Nicole Smith to distraction when he served as the attorney for the family of her late husband J. Howard Marshall in a will dispute. “Screw you, Rusty!” she famously cried from the stand. If Paxton is forced to testify, might he find himself in similar straits?
Harriet Smith O’Neill: O’Neill retired as associate justice of the Texas Supreme court in 2010 after serving since 1999. She was previously appointed by George W. Bush to the Fourteenth Court of Appeals in 1995, won election the next year, and earned a 91 percent approval rating, the highest of members on that court. She also mediated legal disputes when she opened her own practice and at one time coached her daughters’ basketball teams, which might give her an advantage during what is sure to be a near-endless amount of legal bickering during the impeachment trial.
The House managers. The twelve-member House team that investigated and brought impeachment charges against Paxton was led by Republican Andrew Murr, of Junction, a handlebar mustache–wearing grandson of former governor Coke Stevenson and a Texas Monthly best legislator of 2023. His top lieutenant was Ann Johnson, a Houston Democrat who, like Hardin, is a relentless former Harris County prosecutor. By many accounts, the two have worked tirelessly together, proving that even in Texas government, bipartisanship is not a pipe dream.
The trial starts on September 5. You can follow our live blog here to stay on top of the proceedings. If you want to attend in person, tickets are required to observe from the Senate Gallery. Find them on the third floor of the capitol, distributed on a first-come, first-served basis in the morning and afternoon. Doors open at 8 a.m. Popcorn is not permitted.
Forrest Wilder contributed reporting.
Correction, September 2, 2023: A prior version of this story reported that those who work for Stone Hilton are former employees of the attorney general’s office. They are on leave.