Mere hours after the Texas Senate acquitted Attorney General Ken Paxton on sixteen articles of impeachment, Andrew Murr, the Republican state representative and lead prosecutor of the Paxton impeachment trial, strode to the microphone in a Capitol conference room. With his carefully groomed handlebar mustache, rail-thin frame, and ramrod-straight posture, he resembled an Old West lawman. Speaking of the eight appointees who reported evidence of their boss’s corruption to the FBI in 2020 and whose testimony was at the heart of the impeachment trial, Murr praised the “brave, principled public servants” who “put themselves at personal and professional risk to protect the people of the state of Texas.”
Murr could just as well have been talking about himself. Earlier in the day, Texas Department of Public Safety officers informed him that a gun-toting man had been spotted in the Senate visitors’ gallery. The man wasn’t breaking the law. But given the death threats that Murr and his team had received during the trial, Capitol security escorted them off the Senate floor when the proceedings were over.
The threats came as no surprise to Murr, a lawyer, rancher, and eighth-generation Texan whose maternal grandfather was Texas governor Coke Stevenson. Murr represents a rural swath of Central to West Texas stretching from Kerrville to Fort Stockton. As chair of the House General Investigating Committee during last year’s legislative session, he fearlessly held fellow Republicans to account. In May his committee released a damning report that accused Republican representative Bryan Slaton, of Royse City, in East Texas, of getting a nineteen-year-old staffer drunk and then having sex with her. Less than a week later, the House voted unanimously to expel Slaton from office—the first removal of a Texas legislator since 1927.
But Murr was only getting started. As the legislative session entered its final week, his committee issued a stunning recommendation: Paxton’s impeachment. Murr soon found himself under attack from Paxton supporters as a traitor and a pawn of the “radical left”—which must have come as a surprise to a rural Republican who has voted to ban abortion and expand gun rights. “There were threats of physical harm,” Murr told Texas Monthly. “But I don’t think political or physical threats, or intimidation, should ever cause someone to not follow through with their oath of office.”
Undaunted, Murr delivered the prosecution’s opening and closing statements of the trial, making a sober case for Paxton’s conviction. “Unlike the public servants here today, [Paxton] has no regard for the principles of honor and integrity,” Murr declared.
In the wake of the trial, Paxton took his revenge by endorsing Wes Virdell, a gun-rights lobbyist, to challenge Murr in the 2024 primary. In November Murr announced that he was retiring to spend more time with his family. “One down and many more to go!” Paxton posted on X.
Rusty Hardin, the legendary Houston trial lawyer who served as a prosecutor at Paxton’s trial, told Texas Monthly, “I don’t even agree with him on some of his political positions, but he is quintessentially the kind of public servant we need.”
Murr knew he was risking his career, and perhaps even his life, by pursuing justice against one of the state’s most powerful officials. He did it anyway.
This article originally appeared in the January 2024 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “The Best Thing in Texas.” Subscribe today.
- More About:
- Best Thing in Texas