Four of those former top aides — James Blake Brickman, Mark Penley, Ryan Vassar, and David Maxwell — filed a lawsuit against the OAG under the Texas Whistleblower Act in November 2020.
Until now — almost a week before the GOP primary election — those former employees largely kept their allegations against Paxton within the context of the lawsuit that has moved slowly through the courts.
“Our preference was to remain silent while the wheels of justice turned, and our civil case progressed in the courts,” they said in a new statement. “However, in recent weeks, Paxton has made numerous false and misleading public statements that we feel obligated to correct.”
The former aides pointed specifically to two interviews that Paxton has conducted in recent weeks — one with radio host Mark Davis on January 31 and another with Brandon Waltens of the Texas Scorecard that was published on February 9.
One of the claims made by Paxton that they dispute was when he stated, “Even today, this is a year and a half later, we don’t know what the specific allegations are.”
Specific allegations, though, were laid out in the original whistleblower lawsuit, and boil down to the claim that the attorney general used his position to benefit Austin real estate developer Nate Paul.
Paul had contributed $25,000 to Paxton’s campaign in October 2018, predating the main allegations against Paxton, and later reportedly hired a woman with whom Paxton had an affair.
The former aides say that throughout 2020 Paxton helped Paul with respect to a particular open records request, attempting to intervene in a lawsuit between Paul’s business and another corporation, issuing an informal legal opinion, and investigating other government authorities at the behest of Paul.
Paxton himself and the OAG have publicly acknowledged these allegations, namely through a report published by the office which concludes that the “former political appointees of General Paxton had no basis for their criminal complaint” and that the attorney general’s actions were all lawful.
Even during the interview, shortly before Paxton claimed the specific allegations were unknown, he disputed one of the specific allegations, claiming that the investigation that benefited Paul was “referred to me from Travis County” and that he “didn’t create this issue.”
The former aides say this claim is also false, citing the then-Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore who stated that prior to the initial complaint being filed at the county level, Paxton, Paul, and Paul’s attorney met with the office concerning the matter.
“Contrary to what Paxton would have Texans believe, it was Paxton who personally went to the Travis County District Attorney with the campaign donor and the campaign donor’s attorney to initiate the complaint,” they assert. “For Ken Paxton to now claim that he had nothing to do with the referral is false.”
Even the OAG’s report affirms that Paxton “introduced Paul to” the district attorney’s office, but claims he “did not submit a complaint for Paul” and that “he missed most of Paul’s presentation to [the office] in the first place.”
Other claims that Paxton made during the interviews that the former aides dispute include his allegation that they were the ones “committing crimes,” that they “didn’t come to” Paxton ahead of raising the allegations to law enforcement, that the “FBI had already infiltrated” the OAG before the allegations were raised, and that no one has disputed the details of the OAG’s report.
“These false accusations — conveniently re-instigated by the liberal media during early voting — are nothing but lies, disinformation, or contradiction. They have all been investigated and discredited by a comprehensive 374-page report issued in 2021,” said a spokesperson for the Paxton campaign.
“Attorney General Paxton is focused on what voters care about: fighting for Texas and winning dozens of lawsuits against the Biden Administration and their liberal agenda.”
In the pending lawsuit from the former aides, the case thus far has focused on whether or not Paxton is shielded from lawsuits under the Texas Whistleblower Act.
The trial court and Texas’ Third Court of Appeals both ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, saying that the lawsuit could continue.
However, the OAG has appealed that decision to the Texas Supreme Court, where the case is now pending.
“Ken Paxton’s cynical, baseless argument has won for him what he most wanted, a delay in the truth coming out so that he can travel the state misleading Texans,” stated the whistleblowers. “The day will come when Ken Paxton must testify under oath about his and his agency’s actions. Until then, we call on Ken Paxton to start telling the truth to the people of Texas.”
“Every effective conservative leader is and will be attacked. With over a 90% win rate against Biden, none of this should be surprising,” said the Paxton spokesperson. “Others can play politics while we keep winning for Texas.”
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Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.