A second whistleblower was fired this week from the Texas attorney general’s office after being among those who brought forth allegations of abuse and bribery against state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) earlier this month, The Texas Tribune reported Thursday.
A former senior official who had knowledge of the firing told the Tribune that the office on Tuesday fired Blake Brickman, who had served as deputy attorney general for policy and strategy initiatives for less than a year.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of legal retribution.
This comes after the Tribune reported on Tuesday that the attorney general’s office had fired another top aide, Lacey Mase, who was also part of the group of seven current and former aides who provided statements to law enforcement about the allegations against Paxton.
Mase told the Tribune on Tuesday that her departure “was not voluntary” but declined to provide any further information.
Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill Friday.
According to the Tribune, Paxton’s most senior aide, Jeff Mateer, resigned from his role after saying he was among those who talked to law enforcement. Paxton has also reportedly placed two other aides on leave.
The Houston Chronicle first reported news of Brickman’s firing Thursday evening.
In an Oct. 1 letter to the attorney general office’s director of human resources, the aides wrote that they had “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,” according to the Austin American-Statesman.
The group reportedly said in the letter that they had notified Paxton on the allegations given to law enforcement.
Paxton in 2015 was indicted on two counts of securities fraud and one count of failing to register with Texas’s securities board, although the case has been delayed by several appeals and moves by Paxton’s team of attorneys, according to the American-Statesman.
Paxton’s office told the outlet that the latest complaint filed against the attorney general “was done to impede an ongoing investigation into criminal wrongdoing by public officials including employees of this office. Making false claims is a very serious matter and we plan to investigate this to the fullest extent of the law.”
Employment attorneys told the Tribune that this week’s reported firings may be in violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act, which protects state employees from retaliation after accusing their superiors of crimes.
“This situation looks like what the Texas Whistleblower Act was designed to prevent. And the timing looks bad,” Jason SmithJason Thomas SmithMeghan Markle: You realize ‘your voice matters’ even more ‘when you’re not able to exercise it’ GOP congressman accuses Prince Harry, Megan Markle of interfering in US elections Trump’s illness sparks new urgency for COVID-19 deal MORE, a North Texas employment attorney, told the Tribune.