Texas AG Ken Paxton agrees to pay $3.3 million in whistleblowers settlement

By James Barragán, The Texas Tribune

Attorney General Ken Paxton and four of his former top deputies who said he improperly fired them after they accused him of crimes have reached a tentative agreement to end a whistleblower lawsuit that would pay those employees $3.3 million.

In a filing on Friday, attorneys for Paxton and the whistleblowers asked the Texas Supreme Court to further defer consideration of the whistleblower case until the two sides can finalize the tentative agreement. Once the deal is finalized and payment by the attorney general’s office is approved, the two sides will move to end the case, the filing said.

“The whistleblowers sacrificed their jobs and have spent more than two years fighting for what is right,” said TJ Turner, an attorney for David Maxwell, a whistleblower and former director of law enforcement for the attorney general’s office. “We believe the terms of the settlement speak for themselves.”

Paxton, a Republican who won a third four-year term in November, said in a statement that he agreed to the settlement to save taxpayer money and start his new term unencumbered by the accusations.

“After over two years of litigating with four ex-staffers who accused me in October 2020 of ‘potential’ wrongdoing, I have reached a settlement agreement to put this issue to rest,” Paxton said. “I have chosen this path to save taxpayer dollars and ensure my third term as Attorney General is unburdened by unnecessary distractions. This settlement achieves these goals. I look forward to serving the People of Texas for the next four years free from this unfortunate sideshow.”

The tentative agreement would pay $3.3 million to the four whistleblowers and keep in place an appeals court ruling that allowed the case to move forward. Paxton had asked the Supreme Court to void

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Attorney General Ken Paxton agrees to apologize and pay $3.3 million to whistleblowers in settlement

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Attorney General Ken Paxton and four of his former top deputies who said he improperly fired them after they accused him of crimes have reached a tentative agreement to end a whistleblower lawsuit that would pay those employees $3.3 million.

In a filing Friday, attorneys for Paxton and the whistleblowers asked the Texas Supreme Court to further defer consideration of the whistleblower case until the two sides can finalize the tentative agreement. Once the deal is finalized and payment by the attorney general’s office is approved, the two sides will move to end the case, the filing said.

The agreement would bring an end to the lawsuit over the firing of the staffers, but would not end Paxton’s legal troubles. The allegations by the former aides of bribery and abuse of office prompted an FBI investigation, though no charges have been filed and Paxton has denied wrongdoing. Separately, Paxton remains under felony indictment on state charges of securities fraud.

In a joint statement, attorneys for three of the whistleblowers — Blake Brickman, David Maxwell and Ryan Vassar — said, “Our clients are honorable men who have spent more than two years fighting for what is right. We believe the terms of the settlement speak for themselves.”

Don Tittle, a lawyer for the other whistleblower, Mark Penley, said in a statement that the case was really important for “how government should function and what we expect out of our public officials.”

“We think this settlement goes a long way toward restoring the good reputations of the men who brought this suit against the attorney general’s office. They should never have been fired in the first place. [T]his settlement

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Texas AG Ken Paxton to apologize and pay $3.3 million to whistleblowers


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