Four former top aides to Attorney General Ken Paxton are suing him for violating state whistle blower laws. I wrote about that lawsuit here. AG Paxton has hired Bill Helfand, a well-known Houston employment lawyer, to defend him. Mr. Helfand will be paid $540 per hour for his services. In answer to the lawsuit, AG Paxton says the four were fired due to their incompetence, misconduct and/or disloyalty.
The four former top aides include Blake Brickman, Ryan Vassar, Mark Penley and David Maxwell. Mr. Vassar was simply on forced leave when the lawsuit was filed on Nov. 12. Three days after the alsuit was filed, Vassar ws also fired. Mr. Vassar says the reasons he was given were “made-up, nonsense” reasons. As the plaintiff lawyers point out, it was a poor choice of words to accuse whistle blowers of being “disloyal.” Whistle blowers are indeed “disloyal” in a sense. That the employer would make the accusation suggests the real reason for the termination was, well, … blowing the whistle. Mr. Helfand is an experienced employment attorney. It is not likely he would respond to a whistle blower lawsuit with such a poor choice of words.
The plaintiff lawyers also point out that the Texas whistle blower statute provides that if a worker is fired within 90 days of blowing the whistle, then there is a presumption that they were fired because they blew the whistle. AG Paxton has a very hard row to hoe in defending this lawsuit.
He accused four former top aides of incompetence. That suggests he knowingly hired incompetent attorneys. This is a poor start to his defense. That poor choice of words suggests AG Paxton may have had some involvement in drafting the Answer to his lawsuit. It is more the language we would expect from a partisan defendant than from an experienced employment attorney.