On Tuesday, Blake Brickman, who served as deputy attorney general for policy and strategy for the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, was fired
A second whistleblower who signed a letter accusing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of bribery and abuse of office has been fired.
Blake Brickman, who served as deputy attorney general for policy and strategy initiatives for less than a year, was dismissed on Tuesday, reported the Houston Chronicle.
Lacey Mase, the deputy attorney general for the administration was also terminated on the same day.
Brickman and Mase were among seven signatories who reported Paxton to law enforcement in a letter that accused him of serving the interests of one of his wealthy donors rather than the state of Texas.
Paxton has dismissed the whistleblowers as no more than ‘rogue employees’ and says the allegations against him are false.
Brickman, who joined the agency after working for the governor of Kentucky, declined to comment on his firing, reported The Texas Tribune.
Mase told the Tribune her departure from the office as ‘not voluntary’ but declined to comment further.
He is the second person from the office to be terminated after Lacey Mase (left) was fired from her role as deputy attorney general for administration Brickman, Mase and five other aides co-signed a letter accusing Paxton (right) of bribery and abuse of office
Details were vague, but the signatories claim Paxton used his office to serve the interests of Austin real estate developer Nate Paul (above)
In the letter, sent to the agency’s human resources department on October 1, seven current and former aides accused Paxton of using the power of his office to serve the interests of Austin real estate developer, Nate Paul.
The unspecified accusations stem from the attorney general hiring an outside lawyer to look into Paul’s claims of wrongdoing by state and federal law enforcement.
‘We have a good faith belief that the attorney general is violating federal and/or state law including prohibitions related to improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses,’ the letter reads.
The letter also said that the employees have provided statements regarding Paxton’s alleged crimes ‘to the appropriate law enforcement authority’.
However, it does not outline specific accusations.
The letter was first reported jointly by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV and subsequently obtained by The Associated Press.
It was signed by the deputy attorneys general for policy, administration, civil litigation, criminal investigations and legal counsel – Brickman, Mase, Darren McCarty, Mark Penley and Ryan Vassar – as well as Paxton´s first assistant, Jeff Mateer, and Mateer’s deputy, Ryan Bangert.
The most senior aide to Paxton, Mateer, resigned weeks ago. Paxton placed two other top aides on leave.
Paxton is not only facing calls to resign but his office is now contending with the threat of possible legal action from Paul.
The attorney general’s office announced earlier this month that the investigation into whether Paul was mistreated by the FBI was closed after prosecutors in Austin expressed unease.
Employment attorneys say Paxton is opening himself up to lawsuits for violating the Texas Whistleblower Act, which protects state employees from retaliation after they accuse higher-ups of crimes.
Paxton has denied the allegations and dismissed the whistleblowers as no more than ‘rogue employees.’ Pictured: Ken Paxton, Texas attorney general, speaks during a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Sept. 9, 201
‘This looks and smells like classic whistleblower retaliation,’ Jason Smith, a North Texas employment attorney, told The Texas Tribune.
‘This situation looks like what the Texas Whistleblower Act was designed to prevent. And the timing looks bad.’
Paxton has been in legal trouble before, He was indicted in 2015 was indicted on two counts of securities fraud and one count of failing to register with Texas’s securities board, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
He had denied the allegations and there is still no trial date set due to numeral appeals filed by Paxton’s attorneys.
Paxton is currently leading state attorneys general as they and the Department of Justice sue Google for alleged antitrust abuses.
The suit – one of the biggest against an alleged monopoly – accuses Google of having a stranglehold on the online search market such as having contracts with Apple to make it the default search engine.
Source: Daily Mail