Paxton whistleblowers look to revive lawsuit after impeachment, settlement stall out

Texas Attorney General's Whistleblowers
Photo credit Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

AUSTIN ( -- Whistleblowers at the heart of corruption allegations against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton - and the recent impeachment effort in the Texas Legislature - are now looking to bring their case back to the courts after an agreed settlement in the case has largely stalled out.

"We are not going away,” said Blake Brickman, who served as deputy attorney general for policy and strategy under Paxton. “For us, this case has always been about more than money. It's about truth. It's about justice."

The four whistleblowers - Brickman, Mark Penley, Ryan Vassar, and David Maxwell - had reached a settlement in February, including a $3.3 million payout, in the case filed back in November 2020.

However, members of the Texas Legislature rejected a request from Paxton's office to fund that settlement during the regular session - a request that led House investigators to look into the allegations and ultimately led to the impeachment effort against Paxton.

In a filing with the Texas Supreme Court on Monday, the four whistleblowers say Paxton has failed to uphold parts of the settlement agreement reached in February. In addition to the $3.3 million payout, the agreement also included a promise on Paxton's part to publicly apologize for calling the whistleblowers “rogue employees” after they were fired.

Since the agreement has not been upheld, the whistleblowers argue, the court should lift an abatement that was put in place while the settlement negotiations were proceeding. Now, the whistleblowers are looking to have the case returned to the court's active docket.

"We will fight for justice in this case as long as it takes," Brickman said Monday during a press conference. "We remain hopeful that the Supreme Court, like the trial court and the Court of Appeals, will reject OAG's ridiculous argument that the Attorney General is above the law."

Brickman said moving the case back to a trial court would be "very different" from the political trial that just happened in the Senate.

“If the Supreme Court sends our case back to district court, we expect several things to be different from the political trial we just witnessed," Brickman said. "Let’s go over a few of those. Our judge will not receive a multi-million dollar donation from Paxton’s supporters on the eve of trial. Our jurors will not have their careers overtly threatened. The jury will see evidence the House Managers were prohibited from introducing in the impeachment trial."

Paxton's office said it will respond to the case in court. "The Office of the Attorney General will respond to the so-called whistleblower plaintiffs’ comments in a written response to be filed with the Texas Supreme Court - consistent with that Court’s procedures - as opposed to staging a press event in the state Capitol," a statement read.

In previous court filings, the attorney general's office has argued that the case should remain on pause to give future sessions of the Legislature an opportunity to fund the settlement.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK