Was a Whistleblower from the Attorney General’s Office Paid to Keep Quiet?

A Dallas Morning News investigation finds an ex-lawyer for the attorney general’s office was paid months of “emergency leave” after raising questions about the office’s overhaul of its child support system.

By Rhonda FanningAugust 3, 2016 2:20 pm

As Attorney General, now Gov. Greg Abbott pushed for a system to overhaul the state’s antiquated child support system. But the effort didn’t go as planned – there were delays and technical failures. Sometime last fall, a longtime attorney working in the AG’s office began to get concerned that the efforts to fix the state’s child care system involved breaking the law.

David McSwane, reporter with the Dallas Morning News, says she was fired and offered money not to sue. Her attorney filed a grievance to the attorney general’s office after she worked as a lawyer overseeing a project that manages child support payments and investigators who track down child support evaders.

“The whole thing’s just been a mess from the beginning,” McSwane says. “They were under negotiations with Accenture last fall and behind the scenes, the whole thing melted down.”

Martha Fitzwater Pigott raised concerns that her bosses were breaking federal rules as they were securing this contract renewal.

“She was fired shortly thereafter,” he says. “Her attorney lodged an allegation that she was fired as retribution for raising concerns and then the agency settled with her.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– The timeline for the T2 overhaul, now headed by Attorney General Ken Paxton

– Why the attorney who was fired hasn’t come forward with her story

– How this is connected to a larger trend of “emergency leave” among state agencies