AUSTIN — North Texas Sen. Kelly Hancock, one of two Republicans who voted to convict Ken Paxton during the attorney general’s impeachment trial, says he plowed through the evidence presented and concluded Paxton abused his office.
“When you put the different events that were presented to us into a timeline, there’s a cluster, you could see where things were happening in clusters,” he told The Dallas Morning News on Monday.
For instance, when Paxton learned of his own top aides’ suspicions that he was improperly assisting donor and friend Nate Paul, only then were paper trails created, Hancock said.
During the Senate’s jury deliberations, the 10-year senator from North Richland Hills created a timeline of events that he analyzed to help make connections.
“It was really 12 different cases in one,” Hancock said. “The timeline was a big deal. I’m a visual learner.”
On Saturday, Paxton was reinstated as attorney general after a two-week trial on charges of abuse of office, bribery and obstruction. Conviction on any of the articles of impeachment, which required a two-thirds vote, would have removed him from office. But none won even a majority of senators’ support.
Paxton has denied any wrongdoing, calling the impeachment proceedings a sham. His allies have vowed political retribution against those who supported ousting the attorney general.
Hancock, who voted to sustain 13 of the 16 articles of impeachment against Paxton that were aired in a historic trial in the Texas Senate, said he has largely received an outpouring of support.
“Thank you for your integrity and your ethics,” he recounted hearing from constituents.
“People are calling and checking on me,” he said. “And I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m great. I’ve never had so much encouragement.’”
Sen. Robert Nichols, of Jacksonville, was the other Republican who voted to convict Paxton. In a statement on Monday, he said the whistleblowers in the attorney general’s office “displayed tremendous courage.”
Their testimony, “combined with the totality of all the other evidence … proved to me beyond a reasonable doubt that the Attorney General’s actions violated Texas law and his oath of office,” he said.
Some of Paxton’s allies are publicly castigating Hancock for supporting the impeachment.
Michelle Smith, a top adviser to the attorney general, took to social media on Sunday and attributed Hancock’s votes to resentments dating to Paxton’s abortive 2011 candidacy for House speaker, when both were state representatives. On the opening day of the 2011 legislative session, Paxton bowed out shortly before then-Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, easily won a second term.
Smith did not respond on Monday to a text and email asking that she elaborate.
“You have hated Ken since the Straus vote in the house. Kelly, I have never been so disappointed in a person who showed bitterness over principles in the senate yesterday,” Smith said in a post on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.
Hancock denied any such motivation, saying the two would grab lunch in the years following their time in the House.
“I voted based on the testimony and evidence available to me,” Hancock wrote on X. “With much prayer and wisdom from God. In the end, he gave me a peace I can’t explain.”
Senators took different approaches once jury deliberations began at midday Friday, Hancock told The News.
“There was a fairly large group that went into the deliberation with the opinion that basically it’s up to the House and if they didn’t prove their case, it wasn’t our responsibility to go find the facts,” he said.
Hancock thought differently, he said.
“I felt like our job was to determine the truth the best we could, based on what we had available to us,” said Hancock, who has been in the Legislature since 2007.
Between Friday night and Saturday morning, when senators signaled they were ready to vote, “a lot of people’s opinion changed overnight,” he said.
Asked why, Hancock replied, “You will have to ask them. I can’t tell you.”
Since 2021, Hancock has been on the outs with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. They clashed over whether to reprice billions of dollars in wholesale electricity charges after that year’s winter storm exposed problems with the state’s main electric grid. Patrick stripped Hancock, 59, who runs a family-owned business that sells industrial chemicals, of his role as head of the chamber’s business panel.
Asked if he would seek reelection in 2026, Hancock replied, “That’s a long way off.”
McKinney state Sen. Angela Paxton, the attorney general’s wife, called his acquittal “a monumental moment in Texas history, for me as a senator, and of course personally as well.”
The senator wasn’t allowed to vote but said if she had, she would have voted with six Republicans to dismiss the charges at the trial’s start — and to acquit on all articles, she said in a statement issued Monday afternoon.
Patrick, who strongly criticized the House impeachment process Saturday, followed through on a vow to seek a thorough audit of all costs associated with the Paxton impeachment.
In a letter to State Auditor Lisa Collier, Patrick asked for an accounting of all expenses incurred by legislative agencies, starting March 1. She was named by a six-lawmaker panel headed by Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont.
This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas.