Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office drops its lawsuit against whistleblowers in Burnet County, where the office recently failed to get a temporary injunction to stop the whistleblowers’ lawsuit in Travis County. The Travis County case continues, with a hearing coming up on Dec. 20.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton won a temporary halt to a whistleblower lawsuit that has dogged him for years – one that played a central role in his impeachment earlier this year.
Paxton’s legal team sued the whistleblowers Tuesday in Burnet County, a mostly rural swath of central Texas about 30 miles northwest of Austin. There, 424th District Court Judge Evan Stubbs ruled Tuesday the whistleblowers must halt any discovery or further action in the case for at least one week.
Paxton’s move to file suit against the whistleblowers comes after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that litigation can resume in the case. The suit had remained on hold after both sides agreed to a settlement that included a $3.3 million payout to four employees who were fired shortly after several reported Paxton to the FBI in 2020 over his dealings with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul.
The suit triggered a House ethics investigation into Paxton that led to his impeachment in May. The Texas Senate cleared Paxton of all the charges in September and the attorney general has since returned to office.
But shortly after Paxton’s acquittal, the Texas Supreme Court ruled litigation could resume in the civil case in an unsigned order that legal experts saw as a major loss for the attorney general.
While the whistleblowers, James “Blake” Brickman, David Maxwell, J. Mark Penley and Ryan Vassar, agreed to a settlement, its terms – specifically the payout – were never fully fulfilled after the Texas Legislature refused to appropriate $3.3 million for the settlement.
According to the suit filed, the attorney general’s office is seeking protection from the whistleblowers deposing Paxton, his second-in-command Brent Webster, chief of staff Lesley French and senior adviser Michelle Smith.
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