AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked the state auditor’s office to “immediately” begin a special audit into the cost of the investigation and subsequent impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to a letter released Monday.
“To be clear, the goal is to determine the absolute total cost to the state of preparing for and conducting this trial from the beginning through its conclusion,” Patrick’s letter reads.
The Texas Senate on Saturday acquitted Attorney General Ken Paxton on all articles of impeachment he faced during a nearly two-week trial. Senators voted to find Paxton not guilty on every charge, mostly on a 14-16 vote.
Paxton was reinstated as attorney general following the verdict. He pleaded not guilty to all 16 charges at the beginning of the trial.
“This [special audit] must detail all expenses, including but not limited to, investigators expenses, document production and assembly, attorney expenses, witness fees, travel, food and lodging. This list is illustrative, not exhaustive. Please determine and report on all expenses; if there are invoices outstanding, we seek to know what they are and when they will be received,” Patrick’s letter reads.
Patrick requested the audit “be completed and distributed as soon as possible,” the letter states.
Prior to the trial, KXAN reported the attorneys for the Texas House were paid $500 an hour to prosecute the case.
Contracts obtained by KXAN with attorneys Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin show they and each of their attorneys working on the case would earn $500 an hour. The contracts did not note a maximum value or tiered payment structure for different types of attorneys and employees. The attorneys’ teams were also eligible for expense reimbursements, according to the contracts, which expire Oct. 31 unless canceled sooner.
Shortly after the Senate delivered their verdict, Patrick admonished the House for what he described as a rushed and wasteful impeachment process.
“Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this impeachment,” Patrick said from the dais as the trial’s presiding judge. “The Speaker and his team rammed through the first impeachment of a statewide official in Texas in over 100 years while paying no attention to the precedent the House set in every other impeachment.”