Whistleblowers vow to continue fight against Paxton

After the Texas Senate fully acquitted Attorney General Ken Paxton in his impeachment trial, four of his accusers filed court documents urging the state Supreme Court to lift the abatement on their lawsuit against the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) claiming wrongful termination.

The four former employees of the OAG — James Brickman, David Maxwell, Mark Penley, and David Vassar — repeated their claim that Paxton fired them unlawfully in the fall of 2020 after they reported Paxton to federal authorities. They sued the OAG under the Texas Whistleblower Act.

They discussed the motion in a news conference at the Capitol on Monday.

“The impeachment trial is over, but we are not going away,” Brickman said.

The OAG and Paxton’s accusers reached a proposed settlement agreement earlier this year and successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to abate the lawsuit while the agency sought funding from the Legislature. In March, the former OAG employees asked the court to lift the abatement, citing their belief that the agency would be unable to persuade lawmakers to pay the $3.3 million settlement.

The Senate acquitted Paxton on 16 articles of impeachment and dismissed four charges that had been held in abeyance.

The standard of proof in civil cases is typically different from criminal cases. While the impeachment trial was not necessarily a criminal trial, the rules adopted for the trial required the House to prove the accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.

Article VI of the impeachment charges accused Paxton of wrongful termination, while Article VIII accused him of disregarding his official duty by seeking to settle the lawsuit. The Senate rejected both charges.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has called for constitutional amendments to prevent rushed impeachments based on unsworn testimony. Members of the Texas House had less than 72 hours to consider the articles of impeachment before voting to approve them, a source of frequent criticism for those opposed to Paxton’s impeachment.

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