Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) continued to rid his office of the high-ranking aides who earlier this month accused him of committing multiple crimes including bribery and abuse of office. Paxton fired a second whistleblower on Tuesday, the Texas Tribune reported. According to a former senior agency official, Blake Brickman, who served as deputy attorney general for policy and strategy initiatives, was terminated.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, Lacey Mase, the former deputy attorney general for administration, was also terminated on Tuesday.
Brickman and Mase were two of seven top aides to Paxton who earlier this month wrote to the state agency’s director of human resources seeking an investigation into Paxton “in his official capacity as the current Attorney General of Texas.”
The Oct. 1 letter said that they had a “good faith belief” that Paxton was “violating federal and/or state law, including prohibitions relating to improper influence, abuse of office, bribery, and other potential criminal offenses.” The group also filed an official complaint with law enforcement about Paxton’s conduct on Sept. 30.
The employees accused Paxton of improper influence in the case of Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor who donated to Paxton’s 2018 re-election campaign. Paul has been under FBI investigation for more than a year; in the months following a series of Aug. 19 federal raids on Paul’s properties in Austin, the investor filed for more than a dozen bankruptcies, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
The other signators to the letter were First Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Mateer, Deputy First Assistant Attorney General Ryan Bangert, Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation Darren McCarty, Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Mark Penley, and Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel Ryan Vassar.
By purging his office of staffers who recently filed official complaints pertaining to abuses of office, Paxton has likely opened the door to a series of unlawful termination lawsuits under the Texas Whistleblower Act (TWA).
Per the Texas Attorney General’s office, the TWA “protects public employees who make good faith reports of violations of law by their employer to an appropriate law enforcement authority.” The act also states that “an employer may not suspend or terminate the employment of, or take other adverse personnel action against, a public employee who makes a report under the Act.”
[image via YouTube screengrab]
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