Paxton will no longer fight the whistleblower lawsuit

Kind of stunning, definitely a stunt, and also his latest and most desperate ploy to avoid being deposed.

A crook any way you look

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Thursday that his agency will stop fighting a whistleblower lawsuit by four former top executives who were fired in 2020 after accusing the attorney general of corruption.

In a District Court filing in Travis County, the attorney general’s office informed the judge that Paxton no longer wishes to contest the accusations by whistleblowers who argued that they were improperly fired for reporting their former boss to the FBI for his dealings with an Austin real estate investor now under federal indictment.


In a defiant statement, Paxton again referred to the whistleblowers as rogue employees and accused them of working to sabotage his agency’s opposition to President Joe Biden’s policies and priorities.

“I will not allow my office to be distracted by these disgruntled former employees and their self-serving sideshow,” Paxton said.

Whistleblower attorney TJ Turner said the legal team representing the four former employees was evaluating its next steps in the case. But he said the filing showed Paxton feared being forced to testify.

“There’s clearly no length to which he will go to avoid being put under oath, including confessing to violating the whistleblower act and opening up the state’s coffers to an uncontested judgment,” Turner said.

Whistleblower lawyer Tom Nesbitt called the filing “another desperate stunt by Ken Paxton to prevent the truth from coming out.”

He also insisted that the lawsuit is not over.

“Ken Paxton has never answered questions about his illegal and corrupt conduct. He is clearly terrified of doing so – even if it means taking a different position now about him breaking the law than he did at his impeachment trial,” Nesbitt said.

“The Texas Supreme Court ruled just last week that there is no settlement and that Paxton must be deposed. The people of Texas deserve the truth and our lawsuit will provide it,” he said.

In the court filing, the attorney general’s office argued that Paxton was fully vindicated by the Senate impeachment vote for acquittal, adding that firing the executives was justified because it removed “rogue insubordinate employees from senior positions.”

But, the agency added, prolonging the lawsuit would be an “unjustifiable waste of taxpayer resources and an intolerable distraction that risks compromising critical state business.”

“Thus, for the very same reason OAG agreed to settle the lawsuit in the Spring of 2023, OAG hereby elects not to contest any issue of fact in this case, as to the claim or damages,” the court filing said.

It will be up to the Legislature whether to fund, “in whole or in part,” any damages award determined by the court, the agency added.

See here for the previous update. You may recall that one part of that original settlement agreement, the one that was never approved and funded by the Legislature, involved Paxton apologizing for referring to the whistleblowers as “rogue employees”. He sure is a man of his word. The big question now is what happens next, and the immediate answer is we don’t know.

It’s not clear whether the Travis County judge hearing the case could reject Paxton’s request.

Don Tittle, a lawyer for one of the whistleblowers, estimated they are owed damages in the millions of dollars. Taxpayers would cover the cost, only after approval from the Legislature, which has balked at paying a previous request.

Tittle described the move by Paxton is “unprecedented,” and he and the other lawyers are still reviewing the filing.

“I’ve not really ever seen anyone pull a legal stunt like this,” Tittle said. “He’s completely waving the white flag and surrendering.”

He said the decision indicates how badly Paxton wants to avoid the deposition. Tittle said he was expecting to hear from Paxton’s legal team this afternoon about setting a date. The court-ordered deadline was Feb. 9.

The whistleblowers themselves say they’re not done fighting, regardless of Paxton’s apparent surrender.

The whistleblowers have said they are intent on having their day in court and want to see Paxton answer questions under oath.

“We are not going away,” one whistleblower, Blake Brickman, said at a news conference after Paxton’s Senate acquittal. “For us this case has always been about more than money. It’s about truth. It’s about justice.”

This is one of those times where I feel reasonably comfortable making a prediction, so here it is: The whistleblowers will file a motion opposing any termination of the suit; failing that, they will argue for the need to depose Paxton and his minions anyway in order to establish what the damages should be. Paxton., who I’m sure expects this, will oppose that, so there will need to be a hearing. Whatever the judge rules, the loser will appeal and we’ll go back to the Third Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court. Your guess is as good as mine how long that could take, but Paxton will be happy to delay things for as long as he can. He’s got a very clear role model in that department. TPR has more.

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3 Responses to Paxton will no longer fight the whistleblower lawsuit

  1. Jeff N. says:

    Think of all the ways GOP dominance of state government for 30 years has led Texas to this mess. Paxton is only willing to confess liability because he doesn’t expect to pay a personal or political price. If our state government were minimally functional this would be a crazy strategy. Let’s see how much lower the GOP can go.

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