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News Second whistleblower fired from Texas attorney general's office after accusing Ken Paxton...

Second whistleblower fired from Texas attorney general’s office after accusing Ken Paxton of bribery

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By Emma Platoff, The Texas Tribune Oct. 22, 2020

Second whistleblower fired from Texas attorney general’s office after accusing Ken Paxton of bribery” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

A second whistleblower has been fired from the Texas attorney general’s office after reporting his boss, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, to law enforcement for crimes including bribery and abuse of office, according to a former senior official with the agency who had knowledge about the firing but did not want to be named for fear of legal repercussions.

Blake Brickman, who had served as deputy attorney general for policy and strategy initiatives for less than a year, was fired Tuesday, the official said. Lacey Mase, the deputy attorney general for administration, was also fired Tuesday, The Texas Tribune reported earlier this week.

“It was not voluntary,” Mase said of her departure from the office, but declined to comment further.

Brickman and Mase were among seven top aides in Paxton’s office who alerted law enforcement weeks ago that they believed their boss had run afoul of the law. In internal emails obtained by the Tribune, they accused Paxton of using the power of his office to serve the financial interests of a donor, Nate Paul.

The most senior aide to Paxton, Jeff Mateer, resigned weeks ago. Paxton placed two other top aides on leave. The agency has not answered repeated questions about the employment status of the other whistleblowers, or what cause Paxton had to fire Mase and Brickman.

The Houston Chronicle first reported the news of Brickman’s firing Thursday evening.

Brickman declined to comment Thursday. He joined the agency earlier this year after working for the governor of Kentucky.

Employment attorneys say by firing the employees who alleged he had broken the law, Paxton may be walking directly into a lawsuit for violating the Texas Whistleblower Act, which protects state employees from retaliation after they accuse their superiors of crimes.

“This situation looks like what the Texas Whistleblower Act was designed to prevent. And the timing looks bad,” Jason Smith, a North Texas employment attorney, told The Texas Tribune this week.

Paxton has denied the allegations as false and dismissed the whistleblowers as “rogue employees.”

                <p>This article originally appeared in <a href="http://www.texastribune.org/">The Texas Tribune</a> at <a href="https://www.texastribune.org/2020/10/22/texas-ken-paxton-whistleblower-bribery/">https://www.texastribune.org/2020/10/22/texas-ken-paxton-whistleblower-bribery/</a>.</p>
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