As State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, (R) Southlake – District 98, works to increase government transparency, KXAS-TV NBC 5’s Lone Star Politics sat down with Capriglione and Jackson Walker partner Paul C. Watler to discuss the Texas Public Information Act.
A former president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and an attorney who has litigated numerous Public Information Act lawsuits, Paul offered insights on recent court cases limiting public access to governmental information.
In one instance, the city of McAllen paid Enrique Iglesias to perform for an undisclosed amount and withheld the records, claiming that releasing the cost would “place the city at a competitive disadvantage” when negotiating future contracts. More recently, citizens of Denton have been denied access to governmental information on the cost of construction of a new municipally owned power plant that reportedly carries a price tag of more than $250 million. The exact numbers have not been released, though.
“We have a very strong—originally—public information act in Texas that talks about the people’s right to know,” Paul said. “What we’ve seen over the years is that gradually, more and more information is being closed off.”
Paul urged that the Legislature “get [the Public Information Act] back to its original purpose, which was making sure that people can provide oversight on how public dollars are being spent on public business.”
For the full broadcast, view NBC 5’s “Lone Star Politics December 23, 2018.” To explore information about open government and the Public Information Act, visit the Office of the Attorney General website.
For more insights from Paul on the Texas Public Information Act, view “Aligning Open Government Ideals With Law Enforcement Provisions.”
To learn more Jackson Walker’s experience representing media clients in transactional, employment, entertainment, intellectual property, advertising, and other related matters, visit our Media Law practice page.
Dallas partner Paul C. Watler is a board certified Texas civil trial lawyer widely recognized for First Amendment, media law, and “bet-the-company” commercial cases. Paul has successfully represented numerous newspapers, television stations, media companies, websites, and journalists in libel, anti-SLAPP (Texas Citizens Participation Act), public information, invasion of privacy, copyright, news gathering, and commercial lawsuits. Since 1995, Paul has been among a select few attorneys recognized in The Best Lawyers in America for Bet–the–Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, First Amendment Law, Litigation – First Amendment, and Media Law. Throughout his career, he has held leadership positions on the Dallas Bar Association Media Relations Committee, The University of Texas at Austin – Moody College of Communication Advisory Council, the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Board, and the North Texas Public Broadcasting (KERA) Board. The views expressed are his own.