The office of Attorney General Ken Paxton is formally defending his decision to continue paying two high-level staffers after they resigned, saying Paxton “acted in a compassionate, legal, and ethical manner.”
In an op-ed submitted Tuesday to a number of media outlets, the agency’s Director of Human Resources John Poole said recent reports about the situation may have conflated two types of leave employees can be granted under state law, creating the wrong perception about the appropriateness of the decision. The employees in question are Chip Roy, former first assistant attorney general, and Allison Castle, former communications director.
“Attorney General Paxton acted in a compassionate, legal, and ethical manner when he granted paid leave to two staffers who had worked tirelessly for the State of Texas,” Poole wrote. “I stand by his decision.”
Poole’s op-ed came in response to a number of reports, first in The Dallas Morning News, about how Paxton’s office was paying thousands of dollars in salaries and benefits to Castle and Roy more than a month after they stepped down. Roy, who now works for a super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, later clarified that he was using an “option for leave beyond my earned vacation and holiday time,” primarily to cover any health care costs associated with his recovery from cancer.
Paxton decided to grant Castle and Roy 64 days of paid leave upon their resignations in early March, Poole said. Paxton did so under a part of state law that allows paid leave to an employee for “good cause.”
While Castle and Roy used the term “administrative leave” in their resignation letters, they were not referring to a part of state law that deals with administrative leave, Poole said. Under state law, employees like Castle and Roy can receive up to 32 hours of administrative leave per year.
“Mr. Roy and Ms. Castle’s casual use of the term ‘administrative leave’ seems to have misled individuals into thinking that they received leave pursuant to this completely different section of the Government Code,” Poole wrote. “But that is not true.”