Witness Insists Firing the Whistleblowers Had Nothing to Do With Them Reporting the AG to the FBI

It was insubordination, not tattling, that got four high level attorneys from Ken Paxton's office fired, according to HR Director Henry de la Garza.
It was insubordination, not tattling, that got four high level attorneys from Ken Paxton's office fired, according to HR Director Henry de la Garza.

With hours of time still available to them to make their case, attorneys for Ken Paxton rested Thursday after calling only four witnesses who insisted they saw no wrongdoing by the suspended Texas Attorney General now on trial for 16 articles of impeachment.

Final arguments were scheduled to start Friday with the possibility the Senate vote will be taken today as well. The Senators will vote on the articles of impeachment themselves and if Paxton, who is accused of misuse of his office and accepting bribes from real estate investor Nate Paul, is convicted on any count, they then will vote on whether he should be barred from any future public office.

The firing of high level attorneys from the AG's office had nothing to do with them taking their concerns about Paxton to the FBI in 2020 but for completely different reasons that had nothing to do with their whistleblowing activities, Henry de la Garza, the head of Human Resources in the AG's office,  testified Thursday.

According to De La Gaza who said he relied on the facts submitted to him by the then new First Assistant Brent Webster, the fired attorneys just couldn't get along with Webster and were insubordinate. Those fired were Blake Brickman, Mark Penley, David Maxwell and Ryan Vassar.

Texas is a right to work state which means employees can be fired at will. De la Garza said those fired were not protected by the whistleblower act because they were not hired through the civil service system. And although the the AG's office was not required to establish a reason for their firing, the AG's office did so on the grounds that they couldn't work well with their new boss Webster.

August Kinghorn, the deputy attorney general for legal counsel, said he had not seen any wrongdoing on the part of Paxton and that when he accepted a promotion in the AG's office that he was ready to leave the office if he ever saw anything illegal or unethical he would leave.

The FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety committed a number of "violations" and "irregularities" in the way it handled documents requested by Paul under the Public Information Act, according to Justin Gordon, head of the AG's Open Records Division.

These documents related to the raid on Paul's businesses and home. Paul has claimed the search warrant itself was tampered with and claims he was targeted by the FBI. According to Gordon the FBI so redacted some of the documents that Paul and his attorney would have a hard time objecting to any of the records being withheld.

Paxton is accused of helping his friend and donor Paul access the records in a way that misused the open records process. Paxton is also accused of accepting money from Paul to pay for the renovation of his home.

The impeachment trial resumes at 9 a.m. Friday.