Texas attorney general accuses state speaker of presiding over House while ‘obviously intoxicated’

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called on Speaker of the House Dade Phelan to resign on Tuesday, claiming he was “obviously intoxicated” while presiding over the Texas state House of Representatives.

Videos posted to Twitter show Mr Phelan having difficulty speaking during a House meeting on Friday (19 May). Mr Phelan seemed to jumble his words and slur them together, making him difficult to understand at times.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Mr Paxton called on Mr Phelan to resign at the end of the legislative session saying, “Texans were dismayed to witness his performance presiding over the Texas house in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication.”

“His conduct has negatively impacted the legislative process and constitutes a failure to live up to his duty to the public,” Mr Paxton added.

Mr Paxton added that the incident has failed the public and created a credibility crisis for Republicans.

“While I hope Speaker Phelan will get the help he needs, he has proven himself unworthy of Texans’ trust and incapable of leading the Texas House,” Mr Paxton added.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Phelan for comment.

In addition to his statement, Mr Paxton sent a letter to the Texas General Investigations Committee, calling on its members to investigate Mr Phelan.

“Based on a review of Speaker Dade Phelan presiding over the House of Representatives in an obviously intoxicated state, I am calling upon the Committee to open investigations into Speaker Phelan for violation of House rules, state law, and for conduct unbecoming his position,” Mr Paxton wrote.

Mr Phelan, who has served as Texas Speaker of the House since 2021, has not made any public comment about Friday evening’s incident. It is unclear if he was intoxicated or experiencing a health issue that impacted his speech.

However, on Twitter, Brad Johnson, a reporter for The Texan News, reported that a spokesperson for Mr Phelan issued a statement on Tuesday (23 May) claiming, “Mr Paxton’s statement today amounts to little more than a last-ditch effort to save face.”

The spokesperson’s alleged statement seemed to be a reference to a letter, obtained by Mr Johnson, from the Texas House’s Committee on General Investigating to Mr Paxton about an investigation into Mr Paxton’s “request for $3.3 million dollars of public money to pay a settlement resolving litigation between your agency and terminated whistleblowers.”

The Independent has reached out to Mr Paxton’s office for comment.