Paxton agrees to $3.3 million settlement with former employees

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has agreed to settle with the four former employees suing him for alleged improper firing after they accused him of misconduct and abuse of office.

In a Friday filing with the Texas Supreme Court, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) asked the court to postpone consideration of the case while the parties finalize the settlement agreement. “Following finalization and funding of the agreement, the parties will move the Court to dispose of this case,” the filing reads.

The agreement’s terms entail a $3.3 million payment to be paid by tax dollars, as the OAG was a named party; the removal of a press release statement on the OAG site; and an apology for describing the four plaintiffs as “rogue employees.”

The two sides have jockeyed back and forth in court since seven employees, including then-First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer, filed a complaint against Paxton for alleged improper dealings with real estate executive Nate Paul. Each was then summarily fired or had already resigned.

Paxton has maintained and still maintains his innocence of the charges.

“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 in a comment provided to The Texan.

“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.”

Tom Nesbitt — attorney for James Blake Brickman, one of the whistleblowers — told The Texan, “The Whistleblowers are honorable public servants who have been fighting for what is right for more than two years. The terms of the settlement speak for themselves.”

Back in April, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked the Texas Supreme Court to take up the case so that the issue may be resolved. Before that, Paxton had asked the state’s highest civil court to exempt him from the Whistleblower Act — a law that protects employees who report alleged misconduct by higher-ups.

Paxton won re-election by a double-digit percentage in November to secure a third term as Texas attorney general.

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