Two years ago, Phipps Anderson Deacon (now Phipps Deacon Purnell) and three other Texas law firms submitted a contract to represent Bexar County in an opioid lawsuit. District Attorney Nico LaHood subsequently relayed the contract to the Commissioners Court and got same-day approval.
Coincidentally, Martin Phipps of Phipps, et al. had donated $100,000 to the DA’s reelection campaign. Bexar County officials resisted requests for contract details.
In fact, early in 2018, LaHood asked state Attorney General Ken Paxton to declare that “portions of the requested materials may be withheld from disclosure.” Soon thereafter, notwithstanding generous financial support from contract awardees, LaHood went down to defeat in the primary.
Phipps continues to represent Bexar County in its opioid suit, but now faces allegations that he made “straw man” contributions to various local candidates through a former firm employee now facing criminal charges pressed by Phipps.
That former employee, Jason Reichl, was charged with financial theft this past March and was the subject of a civil complaint filed by the Phipps firm in July alleging that Reichl and other former employees stole more than $12 million.
Phipps runs a tight ship, right? Just the guy you’d want overseeing a $1 billion lawsuit. How can you not trust a boss who’s willing to put his employees in legal jeopardy by having them make (and reimbursing them for) contributions to candidates he wants to feel indebted to him – and then reward those same employees for their misplaced loyalty by subjecting them to criminal prosecution and civil litigation to cover his own misdeeds?
Maybe Phipps could explain all this seemingly unseemly behavior, but that would require transparency. Like his old buddy ex-DA Nico LaHood, however, Phipps prefers to keep details of his dealings confidential. When filing the civil complaint against Reichl in July, Phipps also filed a motion to seal, arguing that he and his firm have “substantial interests in preventing public disclosure [of] personal and sensitive financial information.”
It makes you wonder what might be behind the curtain in Bexar County.