Whistleblower case against Paxton set to resume

The civil case under the Texas Whistleblower Act against Attorney General Ken Paxton will resume in a trial court after the all-Republican state Supreme Court lifted the pause placed on it earlier this year when a settlement was reached.

On Monday, the four Office of the Attorney General (OAG) “whistleblowers” — James Blake Brickman, Mark Penley, David Maxwell, and Ryan Vassar — filed a supplemental brief asking to resume the case.

They had already asked the court to lift the abatement in the spring after the settlement between the two parties fell apart; the terms of the settlement included $3.3 million in damages, which the Texas House used as an onus for the impeachment inquiry, and an apology from Paxton for calling the whistleblowers “rogue employees.”

The Texas Supreme Court denied Paxton’s appeal of the Third Court of Appeals’ ruling that the whistleblower law applies to state officials. Paxton had argued that it did not.

Now the case will return to a lower court for an actual trial, something that had been delayed on procedural grounds.

“The political trial is over, and it’s time for the case to continue in a real court,” Brickman said at a press conference this week, announcing their intent to continue the case after Paxton’s acquittal on all 16 articles of impeachment two weeks ago.

The court’s directive came almost exactly three years to the day the eight former OAG employees went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report allegations of abuse of office and bribery.

Defense attorneys poked enough holes in the House Board of Managers’ case to prevent the senators from convicting Paxton “beyond a reasonable doubt” — with all but two of the Texas Senate’s 19 Republicans voting to acquit Paxton on most of the articles.

One of the trial’s biggest moments came when Vassar said under cross-examination that the employees went to the FBI with “no evidence” — a clip that went viral on social media. He later followed up that comment, clarifying, “When we presented ourselves to the FBI, we presented ourselves as witnesses. We did so as witnesses, not as investigators to collect evidence.”

On Monday, Brickman voiced his displeasure with the verdict, saying, “Everyone who watched the impeachment trial knows that House managers presented ample evidence of [Paxton’s] abuse of office.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick admonished the House for how it handled the impeachment, saying, “Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this impeachment. 31 Senators and a large Senate staff that made this trial possible have put their family life, jobs, and businesses on hold for 3 months after being here already from January to June.”

Paxton; Laura Olson, the woman with whom Paxton allegedly had an extramarital affair; and Nate Paul, the developer at the center of most of these corruption allegations, were all precluded from testifying at the trial. Brickman said on Monday that should this case return to court, they would all have to provide testimony and “plead the Fifth” if they so choose.

With impeachment rejected and the settlement in the dust, the case against Paxton from his former employees is now back on track.

Attorneys for the four whistleblowers told High Plains Pundit, “We are looking forward to obtaining a trial setting and to preparing this case for trial as soon as possible.”

High Plains Pundit reached out to Paxton's team for comment but received no response by the time of publication.

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