Lone Star State of Mind

Texas Office of Attorney General Files Against Political Appointees

AUSTIN – Yesterday the Office of the Attorney General of Texas (OAG) filed an appellate brief with the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals fully debunking a group of former OAG political appointees who had gone rogue and lodged unfounded accusations against Attorney General Paxton.

The appeal arises out of a Travis County District Court’s erroneous denial of OAG’s plea to the jurisdiction. OAG’s appellate brief argues that the group of former appointees have no right under Texas law to force their way back into the Agency after failing in the basic duties and responsibilities of their jobs.

Most importantly, the brief reveals a total contradiction between what the rogue appointees have alleged in public and what they’ve said under oath. Notably, Jeff Mateer—Attorney General Paxton’s former number-two executive—swore under oath that Paxton committed no actual crimes. Rather, Mateer only “had potential concerns,” adding without elaboration or specificity that there might be issues if they had gone down a certain “path.”

But bare allegations of hypothetical future problems aren’t enough to blow the proverbial whistle. When asked whether Mateer “c[a]me to believe that the Office of Attorney General was being engaged in ongoing criminal activity,” Mateer was unable “to give a yes or no. . . . What [he] would say is it—it could have led to that.”

However, speculation about or unfounded fears over what might happen—especially when any doubts could have been alleviated by asking a few questions—isn’t enough under Texas law, and certainly isn’t enough to justify what these former aides did.

“As I said when this unfortunate drama first broke, the seven political appointees who launched an unsubstantiated smear campaign against me were rogue,” said Attorney General Paxton. “They disagreed with me on certain matters, which, of course, is fine. Indeed, I always encourage robust debate and discussion among my senior staff. But rather than asking clarifying questions seeking to understand my decision-making, they sought to depose me, cooking up false allegations and trying to attack me in the court of public opinion. They have failed in the their desperate bid. They’ll lose in court too, and my Office will take these claims as far as necessary to ensure Texas law is upheld.”

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