You get a severance! And you get a severance!

Everybody gets a severance package!


Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush has spent nearly $1 million in taxpayer money to entice dozens of people fired by his administration to agree not to sue him or the agency, a practice that may run afoul of a ban on severance pay for state workers.

Bush, a first-term Republican, has directed the General Land Office to keep at least 40 people on the payroll for as long as five months after ending their employment, according to an analysis of records obtained by the Houston Chronicle. The ex-staffers did not have to use vacation time, and, in fact, continued to accrue more time for as long as they were on the payroll. In return, they agreed in writing not to sue the agency or discuss the deal.

Many of the recipients were top aides to former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson who were fired during an agency “reboot” in which Bush replaced more than 100 employees.

Such separation arrangements are made frequently in the corporate world, but are not allowed in Texas government, where there is no severance and staffers generally are required to work to be paid, according to employment lawyers, union leaders and former state officials.

“I can understand the thinking of an agency head who wants to get rid of someone and thinks that this is an easy way to do it, but this is not the way to do it,” said Buck Wood, an ethics expert and former deputy state comptroller, noting the detailed rules that govern how agencies can spend money do not authorize that purpose. “Keeping someone on the payroll when they’re not coming to work so you can avoid the hassle of a lawsuit is just illegal.”

Malinda Gaul, a San Antonio employment lawyer who has represented state workers for 33 years, said she had never heard of such an arrangement.


Steve Aragon, a former general counsel for the Health and Human Services Commission, said he thinks there are justifiable reasons to pay employees for not working, including to prevent litigation in cases in which it was clear that a staffer likely would not come back. However, he said, it is not something that state agencies should do frequently.

“These situations should be exceptional and would not be expected as a matter of routine,” Aragon said.

Others objected to any use of the practice, including Seth Hutchinson, a spokesman for the Texas State Employees Union.

“It’s not an appropriate use of state funds,” Hutchinson said. “If people are being wrongfully fired, they’re being wrongfully fired, and they shouldn’t be using state funds to cover it up.”

After being told that it is not uncommon in the corporate world, Hutchinson scoffed.

“State government should be held to a higher standard of accountability,” he said.

This is getting to be quite the pattern, isn’t it? It’s almost like Baby Bush and Ken Paxton and Sid Miller have no regard for the law but only care about their own interests. I presume someone will file a complaint about this, thus providing Greg Abbott another opportunity to profess ignorance about what’s happening in his government. Keep it up, fellas.

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10 Responses to You get a severance! And you get a severance!

  1. matx says:

    Yet Texas is a “right to work” state, so if most Texans get fired, even without cause, there is no recourse.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    I agree completely with matx. Paxton is a big believer in paying people not to work as well. This shouldn’t be legal. This should result in jail time for both the recipient and the folks that authorized this. Should.

    I won’t hold my breath. If Obama was doing this, I’m sure Bush, Paxton, et al would be up in arms about it, but if it’s (R)s doing it, hey, no problem. This is a story, like Hillary’s e-mail crimes, that should just not go away. Texas taxpayers should hear about this every day, with lists of who got how much, and from who.

    This is VERY upsetting.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Kudos on the title, Kuff! I laughed, right before I got mad.

  4. brad says:


    Nice way to attempt a little deflection and softening the blow of serious ethical issues of the Republican leadership here in Texas by randomly referencing (and erroneously doing so) “Hillary’s e-mail crimes”.

    You’ve got Republican candidate written all over you….Bad news for your party just shout out “Look a squirrel over there!!!!!”

    Keep in mind that Paxton/Miller/Bush are innocent until proven guilty. Just like Hillary.

    But 33% of the state-wide executive leadership of this state under serious suspicion is pretty damning. What a clown car the Republican party is at the top.

  5. Bill Daniels says:


    Sorry to disillusion you, but I’m a Libertarian. Trump will be my first (R) vote for a presidential candidate since I started voting (for Perot, back when the national debt was a paltry $ 4T, by the way).

    I do agree with “innocent until proven guilty,” as you point out, however being enmeshed in serious controversy isn’t something I seek in an office holder. Paxton? Bush? Ag Commissioner Miller? Didn’t vote for any of them, wouldn’t vote for them in the future. Jury is still out on Abbot at this point, but regarding Hillary and the e-mail scandal, yeah, it is exactly the same thing. Everyone I know that served in the armed forces says handling sensitive information is, as my former band director used to put it, “page 6, the red book,” in other words, pretty basic stuff, and stuff that can and does put people in prison, unless you happen to be former General Petraus (sic).

    So, law license Paxton steering people to losing investments with his buddy is pretty much on par with Hillary not treating the government’s business as something to be kept confidential.

    I stand by my statement. Texas paying people for no show jobs should result in whoever authorized those payments to go to jail, and the money should be clawed back from the recipients of that money. I don’t care what political affiliation they have.

  6. brad says:

    All you need to say was that you rely on your band director for legal advice. Case settled!

    As for your statement of being a Libertarian, you’ll understand my great skepticism when you say you’ll vote for Trump when the Libertarian ticket will have two former governors at the top of its ticket and who can make significant inroads in policy debates of the general election campaign. And potentially earn the Libertarian Party significant $ election funds for future elections if they garner 5% of the national popular vote. And potentially earn a spot in the televised election debates with the two major party candidates.

    I would say you are a LINO.

  7. voter_worker says:

    @Bill Daniels: I’d urge you to vote for the Libertarian Party ticket…why vote for someone who is proposing two programs (the wall and mass deportation) that are anathema to the libertarian point of view?

  8. Bill Daniels says:

    @Brad and voter:

    As stated, Trump will be my first (R) presidential vote. Why? Two reasons. One, while I am a (L), I actually support the wall and deportation. If there wasn’t a plethora of social programs, schooling, free medical care, and welfare for illegal aliens and their children, I wouldn’t find illegal aliens such a big problem…..but as things are, I’m sick and tired of paying for people who don’t belong here in the first place. I’m sick and tired of paying for multi generational freeloaders, too. And most of all, I’m sick and tired of political correctness run amok. I’m tired of hearing about “micro-aggressions,” “cis-gender (ad naseum), suspending kids for bringing bubble making guns to school, and about how people like me who go to work every day, pay our taxes and stay out of trouble are demonized for any and everything. I’m tired of celebrating criminals. I’m tired of never ending foreign wars. I’m tired of professional politicians. I’m one of those angry voters that Trump has tapped into.

    Is Trump a windbag? Absolutely. Is he a jerk? Probably. And yet, he’s the only candidate with a shot at winning talking about things I want to hear. For this election cycle, I’m a populist, especially when several Supreme Court seats are on the line. Sorry, I just don’t want to see another “wise Latina” on the court.

  9. Pingback: More on severance pay and the Land Commissioner’s office – Off the Kuff

  10. Pingback: Lone Star Project requests investigation of severance packages – Off the Kuff

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