AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking for more money from the State to fund his $3.3 million whistleblower settlement.
The lawsuit was filed in 2020 by four former employees of the Office of the Attorney General who alleged they were improperly fired after they reported to the FBI what they believed to be criminal conduct by Paxton.
A settlement agreement filed earlier this month states that Paxton will pay the whistleblowers $3.3 million and apologize for calling them “rogue employees." Now he's asking for the State to fund that settlement.
Assistant Attorney General Chris Hilton told a House Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday that the agency has already spent nearly $600,000 in taxpayer money on the case and argued that paying the settlement agreement is in the state's financial interest.
Hilton argued that the cost to taxpayers could exceed the agreed-upon settlement amount if the lawsuit were to continue.
KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman report that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed opposition to taxpayers footing the bill to settle the lawsuit.
Hilton clarified that Paxton is not personally responsible for paying the settlement because the lawsuit is against the Attorney General's Office and not Paxton himself.
"The case is against the state of Texas, and that's true of any Whistleblower Act employment case," Hilton said. "It's very clear that the agency is the proper defendant."
Rep. Jarvis Johnson (D-Houston) asked Paxton on Tuesday if he would be willing to pay the settlement out of his campaign account. The Statesman reports that there is more than $2.3 million in that account, according to Paxton's most recent campaign finance report.
Paxton did not reply to Jarvis' question. Instead, Hilton responded.
"I don't want to speak for the attorney general, I'll just say that there is no whistleblower case where any individual has paid anything because the individual is not liable under the terms of the statute,” Hilton said.
To learn more, read the Statesman's full report.