Paxton to be deposed in February for whistleblower lawsuit

Attorney General Ken Paxton and three top aides will be deposed next month in the ongoing whistleblower lawsuit against the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) after the deposition dates were officially set by a Travis County judge.

Paxton will be deposed on February 1 at the Austin offices of Cain & Skarnulis, the law firm representing one of the whistleblower plaintiffs; First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster’s deposal date is February 2, Chief of Staff Lesley French Henneke’s is February 7, and Senior Adviser Michelle Smith’s is February 9.

Judge Jan Soifer’s order comes the day after Paxton filed a brief conceding the facts of the case against him — an effort to bring the litigation to a close without carrying out the depositions.

“By taking this action, the OAG has put an end to the plaintiffs’ long-running political stunt and re-committed the entirety of agency expertise and resources to our urgent legal initiatives, including our era-defining immigration lawsuits against the Biden Administration,” Paxton said yesterday.

Those depositions had been greenlit back in December and were to occur by February 9, 2024 at the latest. But until now, the exact dates had not been set.

Tom Nesbitt, attorney for whistleblower Blake Brickman, said “the lawsuit is not over” and called Paxton’s maneuver a “desperate stunt.”

The lawsuit stems from 2020 allegations of misconduct and abuse of office involving Austin developer Nate Paul, made by a handful of former top OAG aides; four of them who did not resign — Brickman, Mark Penley, Ryan Vassar, and David Maxwell— were later fired, sparking the whistleblower suit that now stretches into its 38th month.

Paxton alleges that each of the employees was fired for cause and not for bringing attention to the misconduct allegations — even referring to them as “rogue employees.”

A $3.3 million settlement with conditions was reached roughly a year ago but fell apart after the Texas House balked at paying the sum. That turned into the House impeachment inquiry that culminated in full acquittal on 16 charges by the Texas Senate’s court of impeachment in September.

Following that, the Texas Supreme Court approved the resumption of the dormant whistleblower case that is now on the fast track toward depositions long-awaited by the four whistleblowers.

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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