Paxton asks Texas Supreme Court to stop whistleblower lawsuit


Attorney General Ken Paxton has appealed a lower court ruling to the Texas Supreme Court, requesting the dismissal of the ongoing whistleblower lawsuit against him and the enforcement of the $3.3 million settlement agreement that sparked the Texas House’s impeachment investigation last year.

On Monday, Paxton filed a motion to stay the 3rd Court of Appeals’ previous ruling that greenlit the deposition of the attorney general and his three top aides: first assistant Brent Webster, chief of staff Lesley French Henneke, and senior advisor Michelle Smith. The motion to stay follows a mandamus petition from Paxton that, if granted, would move the case immediately to the Supreme Court and out of the appeals court’s hands.

Paxton further asked the court to enforce the $3.3 million settlement — with other conditions like retracting Paxton’s statement calling the four whistleblowers “rogue employees” — which fell apart back in March last year when the Legislature showed skepticism over the payment. That skepticism served as the basis for the eventual impeachment inquiry that culminated in full acquittal by the Texas Senate’s court of impeachment.

The attorney general asked the court to grant his relief by Tuesday, January 16.

“On December 20, 2023, the trial court ordered the depositions of [Paxton and the three aides] next month with virtually no limits on scope, timing, or subject matter,” the petition reads. “It did so notwithstanding the parties’ binding Mediated Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) in which Plaintiffs agreed to release their underlying claims in return for both monetary and non-monetary consideration.”

“As described in greater detail in the accompanying mandamus petition, the consequences of that ruling will be to deprive the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of the benefit of its bargain not only after it performed every act contemplated by the MSA that it could perform but after the Attorney General was unsuccessfully impeached for entering the settlement at all.”

Houston attorney Bill Helfand is representing Paxton and the OAG in this case as outside counsel.

The whistleblowers, led by plaintiff and former OAG employee Blake Brickman, responded in their own brief, citing the Supreme Court’s December action allowing the whistleblower suit to resume following Paxton’s acquittal.

“Plaintiffs’ showing of the four witnesses’ unique and superior personal knowledge was not only extensive, but unrebutted,” the whistleblower’s reply reads. “OAG introduced no affidavits or other proof that the witnesses lack such knowledge, which is independently fatal to their mandamus petition.”

“Similarly, OAG did not request any ‘limits on scope, timing, or subject matter’ in either its Motion to Quash or its response to Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel, much less prove that any such limitations were necessary.”

The depositions of Paxton and the three aides have not yet been scheduled, but if permitted are expected later this month or the next. The Legislature still has not authorized funding for the settlement, and the House shows little sign of approving it.

As the fallout from the impeachment plays out electorally in this year’s GOP primaries, the legal fight in formal court rages on.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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