Texas AG Paxton won't contest facts of whistleblower lawsuit central to his 2023 impeachment

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sought to end a whistleblower lawsuit by former top staff members on Thursday, announcing his agency would not contest the facts of the case and would accept any judgement.

The lawsuit was brought by a group of former top deputies. They alleged they were improperly fired for reporting Paxton to the FBI on claims he was misusing his office to protect a friend and campaign donor, who in turn was helping Paxton conceal an extramarital affair.

The allegations in the lawsuit were among the impeachment charges brought against the Republican last year by the state House of Representatives, of which he was ultimately acquitted after a Senate trial. Republicans hold large majorities in both chambers.

Paxton's attempt to push the lawsuit to closure comes as he faces the likelihood of having to sit for a deposition and answer questions under oath. Paxton did not testify during his impeachment trial.

“There is clearly no length to which Ken Paxton will go to to avoid putting his hand on a Bible and telling the truth, including confessing to violating the whistleblower act and opening up the states’ coffers to an uncontested judgement,” said TJ Turner, lawyer for David Maxwell, one of the former assistants who sued Paxton.

Turner said he’s reviewing the motion and evaluating his client’s legal options.

“It does not end the case,” said Tom Nesbitt, a lawyer for another one one of the whistleblowers, Blake Brickman. “This is a pathetic bid for more delay by a coward.”

It was Paxton's initial attempt to settle the case for $3.3 million and ask the state to pay for it that prompted House lawmakers to conduct their own investigation and vote to impeach him. As a term of that preliminary deal, the attorney general agreed to apologize for calling his accusers “rogue” employees.

But in a statement Thursday, Paxton again called the group “rogue former employees” and said it would be up to the Legislature to determine what they would be paid, if anything.

“It has become increasingly clear their objective is not to resolve an employment lawsuit but to sabotage my leadership and this agency, ultimately aiming to undermine Texas as the nation’s leader against the federal government’s unlawful policies," Paxton said.

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Associated Press writer Jake Bleiberg contributed to this report from Dallas.