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Patrick counsel out in impeachment trial after disclosing he donated to Paxton’s election rival

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(The Center Square) – On Friday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced he appointed Justice Marc Brown as counsel to the Presiding Officer for the impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton. Less than 24 hours later, on Saturday, the judge said he couldn’t do it.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a statement on Saturday saying he received a letter from Brown and accepted his declination to serve.

“Today, we received the following letter from Justice Marc Brown, who I appointed to be my legal counsel during the impeachment proceedings,” Patrick said, adding, “I accepted his declination to serve.”

On Aug. 19, Judge Brown wrote Patrick a four-paragraph letter explaining that he could not participate because in November 2021, he donated to the campaign of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s challenger, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman. He said he “didn’t recall” that he had donated to her campaign when he initially met with Patrick to discuss his possible role in the trial. After he was nominated, he wrote he “now recalled” that he had made the donation.

He also said he had not actively campaigned for any candidate since he became a district court judge in 2010.

“I have full confidence in my ability to fairly offer legal advice on” the impeachment proceedings, he said. But the proceedings were “far too important to the State of Texas for there to be any distractions involving allegations of favoritism or personal bias on my part,” he said.

Guzman ran in a four-candidate primary race attempting to unseat Paxton last year. She ran a largely negative personal attack ad campaign in which she and George P. Bush hurled personal insults at each other throughout the entire race. Former Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, also ran, but both he and Guzman lost in the primary.

In a primary runoff election, Paxton easily defeated Bush after Bush had received widespread criticism for his handling of Alamo restorations and conflict he created with the Daughters of the Republic when he was General Land Commissioner.

According to the Senate Rules, Patrick is the presiding officer of the trial and can appoint a counsel to help advise him on rulings.

Patrick said he has searched for several months to find someone to fill the role. Brown’s conflict of interest did not come up in the discussion or search, Brown wrote, only after he was nominated.

Patrick made the announcement on Saturday. His statement and the letter were also posted online on a Senate impeachment court website where filings from all parties related to the trial are available to the public.

Patrick has a few weeks to find a new counsel before the trial begins on Sept. 5.

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