Thursday, March 23, 2023
Texas AG Ken Paxton Seeks to Scuttle Settlement With Whistleblowers
While I was in Texas for KCON, I came across this news article from James Barragán in The Texas Tribune. In short, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (right) agreed to a $3.3 million settlement with eight whistleblowers who worked with him and were terminated or resigned after accusing him of corruption and abuse of office. They agreed to pause their suit against General Paxton so that a payment of the settlement could be arranged.
General Paxton now thinks the pause should to continue indefinitely, and plaintiffs have had to return to court to ask the court to allow the case to proceed. The Texas legislature is refusing to approve the payment, and Paxton is now arguing that the whistleblowers, having agreed to a settlement that cannot be implemented, should walk away with nothing. If the legislative session that ends on May 29th awards them nothing, they can wait, General Paxton avers in a legal filing, until the next legislative session . . . in 2025 and then 2027, and so on.
It seems an important commentary on our time that the incredibly powerful Attorney General of our second-most populous state should engage in corruption atop corruption and it doesn't even merit national news. My quick Google search turned up no reporting on the issue in the national press. General Paxton boasts on his website that he brought suit against the Obama Administration 27 times in two years. Sixteen months into the Biden Presidency, General Paxton had already brought 25 challenges to that administration's policies. It is hard to keep straight all of the cases that the U.S. Supreme Court has heard in the past few years that are captioned Texas v. United States. And yet, news of significant corruption and abuse of legal process by a politician with a national impact merits little more than a shrug and a sigh. I spoke with some friends from Texas about the story, but they could not disentangle this story about corrupt politicians from all the others and responded with hopeless resignation.
The settlement agreement included a provision for an apology from Paxton to his former subordinates. There are no reports that General Paxton has issued the apology. The Texas Legislature apparently has no interest in using taxpayer dollars to pay for a settlement that would resolve General Paxton's legal problems in this case. People interested in learning about the other legal fixes for which General Paxton has never been held accountable, including two indictments for securities fraud which somehow, after seven years, still have not gone to trial, can read about them in the Texas Monthly.
The Texas Montly also provides a litany of complaints about the inefficacy of General Paxton's office in fulfilling its primary mission -- addressing crime in Texas. That's as may well be, but from this blog's perspective, there's just one legal delict that matters: breach of contract.