AUSTIN, Texas — The impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton all started with an ask.
"Earlier this year, Mr. Paxton came to the Legislature seeking $3.3 million in taxpayer money to settle a whistleblower lawsuit," impeachment chair and Texas State Rep. Andrew Murr said. "This is why we are here."
The Attorney General's Office agreed to pay $3.3 million to settle a lawsuit with four former employees who reported Paxton to the FBI and were later fired. But that money had to come from the Texas Legislature, launching the House investigation into the whistleblower report. Texas lawmakers ended the session without giving the Attorney General's Office the money.
Now that Paxton's impeachment trial is over and he is acquitted, there are questions about the settlement.
"Where that's going to come from and how those people are going to get paid is a different story. Or he could try to pull a 'Godfather' and then say, 'My offer is this, nothing,'" said Brian Smith, a political science professor at St. Edward's University. "I'm thinking right now, Paxton is probably going to use his own funds, not the State's. He wants to put this behind him. I'm sure right now, he's raising tons of money; he's been using the trial kind of as a fundraiser."
Law experts say Paxton probably still wants to settle. Austin attorney Brad Vinson said that's because the odds are not in Paxton's favor.
"So the venue for that lawsuit would be Travis County, meaning that if there's not a settlement agreement that's been reached, then the case would proceed into a potential jury trial in Travis County. Which I think we could all probably agree would not be favorable for Mr. Paxton," Vinson said.
Vinson thinks it is in everyone's best interest to pay it off as soon as possible.
"I think he would continue to skirt that and wave the flag and say, 'Look, I was found not guilty on all these counts. So government, you figure out how to pay this up or it could cost you more.' Right? And that's the danger to the House, right? The bigger danger to the House is what if we don't pay the settlement agreement? What if it goes to trial and what did we lose?" Vinson said. "So it is definitely a sticky situation."
KVUE has reached out to the Attorney General's Office about the status of the settlement, but we have not heard back.