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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton agrees to settle whistleblower lawsuit for $3.3M

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton agrees to settle whistleblower lawsuit for $3.3M
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton agrees to settle whistleblower lawsuit for $3.3M 02:20

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Friday he is settling the whistleblower lawsuit filed by four former top officials in his office so he can put it behind him. 

Those four men, Mark Penley, James Brickman, David Maxwell, and Ryan Vassar and four other top officials in the Attorney General's office went to the FBI in the fall of 2020, making allegations of bribery and abuse of office against Paxton.

He fired them and called them "rogue employees."     

The settlement agreement filed at the Texas Supreme Court Friday shows Paxton is paying the four men $3.3 million.

The agreement says, "Whereas, Attorney General Ken Paxton 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 press release that calls them "rogue employees" will also be removed from the agency's website according to court documents.      

David Coale is an attorney in Dallas who's not affiliated with this case. "This involves whistleblower allegations at the upper echelons of Texas state government. These are the people, the closest advisors the State Attorney General had."

In a statement to CBS 11, one of the plaintiffs, Penley, a former Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice said, "I am glad that the OAG has recognized the legitimacy of our claims and the value of the damages we sustained.. As a group, our actions were not motivated by politics in any respect." 

Penley's attorney Don Tittle of Dallas said the settlement goes a long way in restoring the mens' impeccable reputations."

Paxton has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and issued a statement to CBS 11 Friday. "I have reached a settlement agreement to put this issue to rest. I have chosen this path to save taxpayer dollars and ensure my third term as Attorney General is unburdened by unnecessary distractions."

"If spending $3.3 million is in fact a savings of money, that suggests that he was either thinking it was going to be a long period in court, or potentially a larger pay out that ultimately would be due at the end of the day." 

In a statement Friday, State Representative Jeff Leach, R-Allen said, "I am extremely troubled and concerned that hardworking taxpayers might be on the hook for this settlement between the Attorney General and former employees of his office. I've spoken with the Attorney General directly this morning and communicated in no uncertain terms that, on behalf of our constituents, legislators will have questions and legislators will expect answers."

No word on the status of the FBI investigation. 

Paxton still faces a trial on three unrelated state felony fraud charges. 

He has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing in those cases. 

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