The Whistleblowers Behind Ken Paxton’s Impeachment


The 4 males behind the whistle-blower lawsuit that landed the Texas lawyer basic, Ken Paxton, in political peril had been as soon as staff and allies whom Mr. Paxton handpicked to advance his conservative agenda.

The 4 workers members — James Blake Brickman, David Maxwell, Mark Penley and Ryan Vassar — joined forces once they determined that the actions they noticed involving Mr. Paxton had been too troubling to let stand.

They filed the whistle-blower lawsuit in 2020 after Mr. Paxton ignored their repeated expressions of concern. In accordance with the 372-page submitting that laid out their allegations, the 4 workers members fell out with Mr. Paxton after the F.B.I. in 2019 raided the house of Nate Paul, a rich actual property investor in Austin and a donor to Mr. Paxton. Satisfied that the authorities had acted unlawfully, Mr. Paul enlisted Mr. Paxton’s help.

Within the lawsuit, the 4 males allege that Mr. Paxton not solely used his affect to arrange and attend a gathering for Mr. Paul and his lawyer with the workers of the native district lawyer’s workplace, however had additionally assigned a non-public lawyer to look into Mr. Paul’s issues.

The 4 mentioned within the criticism that they believed Mr. Paxton “had violated Texas legal regulation, together with however not restricted to the legal guidelines relating to bribery, improper affect, and abuse of workplace.”

Mr. Paxton, they mentioned in authorized paperwork, “has flagrantly violated and apparently believes he’s above the very regulation he promotes on his personal web site.”

Mr. Paxton responded by suspending and later firing them.

Earlier this yr, Mr. Paxton mentioned he had reached a settlement with them. However extra bother adopted when he requested the state to pay them $3.3 million in compensation, main a Texas Home committee investigating his actions to schedule a vote Saturday afternoon on whether or not to question Mr. Paxton.

Throughout a information convention on Friday, Mr. Paxton known as the efforts to question him “unlawful” and “political theater,” and he added that he was not supplied with a chance to problem allegations made towards him.

He additionally mentioned he was assured the requires his impeachment won’t prevail. “I hope the Home makes the correct choice, but when not, I look ahead to a fast decision within the Texas Senate,” he mentioned.

These are the 4 whistle blowers.

Mr. Brickman was deputy lawyer basic for coverage and technique initiatives from February 2020 till his termination in Oct. 20, 2020, in keeping with the authorized filings. The filings mentioned that Mr. Brickman and Mr. Paxton had a superb working relationship earlier than the scandals surfaced and that at Mr. Paxton’s request, Mr. Brickman moved along with his spouse and three youngsters to Austin to work with him. The filings allege that months earlier than Mr. Brickman started expressing concern about Mr. Paxton’s habits, the lawyer basic repeatedly lauded his work, as soon as calling him an “wonderful addition,” to his workplace.

However after the workers members questioned the efforts to help Mr. Paul, the connection soured, the filings say. Mr. Brickman was requested to step away from key conferences, a transfer that he mentioned in courtroom paperwork was meant to “diminish Brickman’s duties and tasks to punish him, to attempt to intimidate and embarrass or humiliate him.”

Earlier than coming to work for Mr. Paxton, Mr. Brickman was the chief of workers for former Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky, a Republican. He has additionally served as chief of workers for former Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, additionally a Republican.

For 10 years Mr. Maxwell oversaw a crew of about 350 staff with the Texas lawyer basic’s workplace, the place he labored because the deputy director and director of the regulation enforcement division. The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Maxwell got here into battle with Mr. Paxton when he discovered of Mr. Paxton’s try and insert himself within the federal inquiry related to Mr. Paul. Within the lawsuit he filed with fellow whistle-blowers, Mr. Maxwell and Mark Penley asserted that “lots of Paul’s complaints had been outdoors state jurisdiction.”

In authorized filings, Mr. Maxwell described himself as an “trustworthy, thorough and hard regulation enforcement investigator.” His profession in regulation enforcement spanned about 50 years, together with 35 of them with the Texas Division of Public Security, most of that point as a Texas Ranger, in keeping with authorized paperwork.

Mr. Maxwell can be recognized in Texas for serving to to determine the person who raped and fatally stabbed his sister, Diane Maxwell Jackson, many years after the crime, which took place in 1969. A choose sentenced her killer to life in jail in 2004.

Mr. Penley labored because the deputy lawyer basic for legal justice beneath Mr. Paxton for simply over a yr, from Oct. 8, 2019 till Nov. 2, 2020. Throughout that point, he supervised a crew of about 220 staff in numerous divisions, together with legal prosecutions, particular prosecutions, legal appeals and crime victims companies, in keeping with authorized filings. Mr. Penley, a retired federal prosecutor, has spent practically 40 years working towards regulation.

Mr. Penley additionally discovered himself at odds with Mr. Paxton a number of instances as Mr. Paxton labored to assist Mr. Paul navigate his authorized issues. In accordance with the lawsuit, Mr. Penley at one level refused to signal a memo approving the hiring of the particular prosecutor assigned to the raid at Mr. Paul’s properties.

Till late 2020, Mr. Vassar served as a deputy lawyer basic for authorized counsel for the lawyer basic’s workplace. He was the final of 4 former workers members from Mr. Paxton’s workplace to be ousted after the accusations of corruption surfaced towards Mr. Paxton. Mr. Vassar mentioned within the lawsuit that he refused many requests from his former boss to assist unearth info that may assist Mr. Paul.

Mr. Vassar had a protracted authorized profession in Texas earlier than the scandal broke. Most not too long ago, he has taken a job as a basic counsel with the Cicero Institute, a nonprofit public coverage group, in keeping with the institute’s web site. For 3 years, Mr. Vassar labored as a authorized clerk for Justice Don R. Willett of the Supreme Court docket of Texas. He graduated with an accounting diploma from Texas Tech College and a regulation diploma from South Texas Faculty of Legislation Houston.


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