Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and four of his former top deputies, who said he improperly fired them after they accused him of crimes, have reached a tentative agreement to end a whistleblower lawsuit, multiple news outlets reported Friday. Paxton agreed to apologize and the state will pay $3.3 million to the four whistleblowers, according to the reports.
The settlement, once finalized, will include a statement from Paxton saying he “accepts that plaintiffs acted in a manner that they thought was right and apologizes for referring to them as ‘rogue employees.’”
The attorney general’s office also agreed to delete a news release from its website that called the whistleblowers “rogue employees.” The news release had been deleted as of Friday morning.
In their lawsuit, the former top deputies alleged retaliation after they accused Paxton of bribery and abuse of office.
In a filing on Friday, attorneys for Paxton and the whistleblowers asked the Texas Supreme Court to further defer consideration of the whistleblower case until the two sides can finalize the tentative agreement. Once the deal is finalized and payment by the attorney general’s office is approved, the two sides will move to end the case, the filing said.
“The whistleblowers sacrificed their jobs and have spent more than two years fighting for what is right,” said TJ Turner, an attorney for David Maxwell, a whistleblower and former director of law enforcement for the attorney general’s office. “We believe the terms of the settlement speak for themselves.”
Paxton said in a statement that he agreed to the settlement to save taxpayer money and start his new term unencumbered by the accusations.
“After over two years of litigating with four ex-staffers who accused me in October 2020 of ‘potential’ wrongdoing, I have reached a settlement agreement to put this issue to rest,” Paxton said. “I have chosen this path to save taxpayer dollars and ensure my third term as Attorney General is unburdened by unnecessary distractions. This settlement achieves these goals. I look forward to serving the People of Texas for the next four years free from this unfortunate sideshow.”