Red Flags Abound in Payments to Former Texas State Employees

This weekend the Houston Chronicle reported that Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush had paid former state employees who were fired nearly $1 million not to sue his office or him personally and to keep quiet about the arrangement. The news follows earlier revelations that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton continued to pay three employees from his office after they stopped working for the state. Since severance pay for state workers is not allowed, the payments by both officials are drawing scrutiny. Veteran Dallas employment lawyer Rogge Dunn says he believes the agreements likely are improper. The practice of paying government employees after they’ve been terminated is highly questionable and likely violates the ban on paying state workers severance,” Mr. Dunn says. “This practice should concern taxpayers and regulators alike because it’s so vague and lacks transparency. Mr. Dunn says the payment structure Mr. Bush relied on for former General Land Office employees is particularly confusing since any lawsuits that could have been filed or may still be filed would be handled just like any other claim against the state, which means a settlement or a trial. Without any checks and balances, taxpayers are at risk for abuse of the standard, above-board process by which the state settles claims and lawsuits, he says.

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