TX: Austin Review Files Open Records Request for Documents Against Fugitive Dems
By The Sierra Times
Austin, TX - The Austin Review announces that it has filed an open records request Tuesday under the Texas Freedom of Information Act with the State Attorney General Greg Abbott for any and all records produced by the fugitive Democrat Texas state legislators while in Oklahoma. A full copy of our request is enclosed below. The Review is also requesting that this brigade of fugitive legislators allow us to place an embedded reporter within their ranks to provide the same objective, independent coverage that the U.S. military permitted in Iraq.
Austin Review Executive Editor James Logan stated, "We believe that under state law all documents created by the fugitive legislators in Oklahoma are public information, including even handwritten notes. These legislators may be able to hide from their colleagues, Texas law enforcement, and the public, but we will not allow them to shirk their responsibility to be open and accountable to a free press and the people of this state. Among other things, these documents may reveal whether special interest groups such as plaintiff's lawyers and labor unions are picking up the tab for this junket."
Logan quipped, "We are also demanding that these fugitive legislators allow the Review and other concerned media outlets to place embedded reporters within their ranks. Our journalists pledge to abide by any reasonable restrictions which they impose on us, including not revealing the location of their weapons of mass desertion."
Logan explained, "While these legislators held a choreographed news conference, that is hardly sufficient to provide the objective, independent reporting that the public demands. It is unconscionable that our military, which is engaged in far more sensitive and dangerous operations in Iraq, permitted far greater access than these legislators who are elected by and accountable to the people."
Logan concluded, "Whatever the merits of the redistricting proposal now on the table, it must not be used an an excuse for public officials to abdicate their duties, including the requirement of transparency in how they conduct their affairs. Although these fugitives claim they are standing on principle and had no alternative but to desert, district lines are both highly political and malleable. As such, there are infinite possibilities for compromise, and any plan is subject to challenge in court. If they haven't already, these AWOL legislators ought to devise their own redistricting plan, which would be covered by our open records request, and present it upon their return. Then we can have a real debate on the merits instead of a puerile game of chicken."
Director of Communications
Texas House of Representatives
VIA FAX: (512) 463-5729
cc: Amanda Crawford
Public Information Coordinator
Office of the Attorney General
VIA FAX: (512) 494-8017
To Whom It May Concern:
This is a request under the Texas Open Records Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code (formerly V.T.C.S. article 6252) as well as Article I, Sec. 8 of the Texas Constitution, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the common law of the State of Texas and any statute providing for public access to government information.
In light of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding this request, we would ask that your office immediately contact the fugitive legislators, if they can be reached, to advise them against destroying any documents subject to this request. Additionally, we would request that the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Rangers be notified of this request so that, upon the arrest of any fugitive legislators, they may confiscate any documents covered in this request that appear to be at risk of destruction.
I request that I be sent copies of the following documents or, if there are a large number, be permitted to inspect the following documents and receive copies of the ones I would like:
All documents produced on or before May 9 by all state legislators who have refused to show up at the Capitol for purposes of establishing a quorum, including but not limited to the following lawmakers who are reportedly in hiding in Oklahoma:
This request includes, but is not limited to, all documents discussing legislative plans and strategy, including, but not limited to, the logistical arrangements for their walkout, redistricting, and planned attacks on political opponents. It also includes, but is not limited to, all records and receipts showing these legislatorsí expenses for the purchase of any and all goods and services, whether legal or illegal, from: hotels, restaurants, bars, recreational facilities, and other commercial establishments, as well as individual purveyors.
It also includes, but is not limited to, telephone and email records reflecting calls and emails transmitted on state cellular telephones and laptop computers, including, but not limited to, such communications with national Democrat Party operatives and leaders. This request also includes, but is not limited to, all records showing any direct, indirect, or in-kind contributions from individuals, groups, and businesses made to defray the costs these legislatorsí have incurred while absent from Austin.
In addition to the above documents generated on or after May 9, this request includes any and all documents generated before May 9 discussing these legislatorsí plans to break quorum through this dereliction of their duties.
If you have any questions about the nature or scope of this request, please contact me. If you determine that all or some portion of the information requested is excepted from required disclosure, I request that you provide me with the portions of the requested information that are public and reasonably separable from that which you believe is excepted.
If any records are in active use or in storage, please certify this fact in writing and set a date and hour within a reasonable time when the on of the information requested is excepted from required public disclosure under a particular exception, I request that you advise me as to which exceptions you believe apply.
If you rely on previous determination, please advise me of the applicable court decision or Attorney General's opinion. If there is no such determination, please advise me of the request for such an opinion, as required under section 552.301 of the Act, and a dated copy of your letter to the Attorney General. I call your attention to section 522.353 of the Act, which provides penalties for a failure to release public records.
I am prepared to pay reasonable costs for copying, within the guidelines set by sections 552.261, 552.262, 552.263, 552.267, 552.268, 552.269.
I appreciate your attention to this request and expect to hear from your office within ten days.
The Austin Review
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If they haven't already, these AWOL legislators ought to devise their own redistricting plan,
The democrats have been doing this very thing in the Texas Congress for years. They have always conrolled the district lines thgough legislation. The republicans have never 'abandoned ship' and avoided thier jobs. I wonder what would happen to me if I didn't show up to work for 4 days?
It sounds like the game is over and everyone is wanting to forget this ever happened. At least, within the House itself and the Governor's office.
It's a good thing I'm not a member of the Texas House. I wouldn't let it go that easily. These Democrats are an embarrassment to our state and an embarrassment to everything that our system of government stands for.
Since the Republicans in the House are apparently willing to forgive and forget, I'm hoping that the PEOPLE of Texas will follow through on this. We need to get rid of those deserters in the next election. Even if they're replaced by other Democrats, I want to see them GONE.