Texas Governor’s Travel Vouchers – Lawyers Arguing on Their Disclosure

Texas Governor’s Travel Vouchers – Lawyers Arguing on Their Disclosure

9/20/2010

Seeking to uphold the Public Information Act for the benefit of news organizations, William Christian argued that the travel vouchers for the protective detail of Gov. Rick Perry must be released to the public, since the records are vital to news reporters.

William Christian represented the Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, and San Antonio Express-News. These news organizations sued the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to grant them access to the said travel records.

Attorney David Morales, representative of DPS, argued that the disclosure of the vouchers will endanger the governor and his companions on their trips since the vouchers contain pertinent information with regards to their travel. The information includes the number of security officers, their arrival, their travel destinations, as well as the type of vehicles that would be used during travel.

The Attorney General’s office said that State Public Records Law does not require these travel vouchers to be disclosed. However, the lower courts ruled in favor of the news organizations.

Christian argued in the Texas Supreme Court that if everyone who seeks the vouchers are treated like criminals, it is in itself undermining the Public Information Act with regards to openness.

On the other hand, Morales argued that the disclosure of the governor’s travel vouchers should be made as an exemption in the Public Information Act, and therefore must not be released.

A decision from a higher court could still take months.

WRITTEN BY:

blakeh@wellsdrew.com