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New Ruling Keeps Old Travel Records Secret


After critics lifted a scent about a taxation dollars being spent to yield confidence for Gov. Rick Perry while he was gearing adult to run for president, lawmakers upheld a bill in 2011 designed to let Texans know — eventually — what they were removing for their money. 

Now, interjection to a new statute from a bureau of Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Texas Department of Public Safety will not have to yield itemized transport annals for a confidence fact after all. The DPS is still releasing a altogether spending, with total damaged down into into 5 extended categories. But a statute means that a open won’t know precisely what their taxation dollars paid for when it comes to a governor’s confidence detail.

Relying on DPS assertions that releasing a aged information represents an ongoing confidence threat, Abbott’s bureau blocked investigation of a transport annals even yet they were submitted years after a losses were incurred. That includes a ones from Perry’s final presidential run, that finished in a spectacular nosedive a few months after it began.

Transparency advocates who had pushed for avowal of a records, that once were accessible for open inspection, contend Abbott’s statute is another blow to open supervision in Texas. As profession general, Abbott, a Republican gubernatorial nominee, decides what information supervision agencies have to yield underneath state clarity laws. 

“It flies in a face of what a Legislature intended,” pronounced Michael Schneider, clamp boss for legislative and regulatory affairs during a Texas Association of Broadcasters, that has fought to lift a long-standing deceive of privacy over a records. “It’s only plain wrong.”

Abbott’s preference cites a loophole in a open annals law that allows DPS to retard recover if it believes avowal would benefaction a “substantial hazard of earthy harm” to a administrator or his family. Abbott’s bureau pronounced there was no choice though to ask that sustenance and secrete a records.

The statute comes as Perry is fanning out again opposite a nation — and shortly to China and Eastern Europe, advisers contend —amid complicated conjecture that he will run for boss in 2016. This week alone, he was during a RedState gathering in Fort Worth and done about a dozen stops in Iowa, including one Tuesday during a Iowa State Fair, where Perry gushed that it was “a service to be out of a Texas heat.”

A phalanx of confidence guards accompanies him on those trips, and that costs money. In Mar of this year, a costs of providing Perry’s confidence in Washington, D.C. alone, where he addressed a CPAC Conference — a magnet for GOP White House hopefuls — strike $16,000. That included $8,600 for transportation, $4,000 for camp and $2,200 for food; another $1,200 was listed as “other.” The state spent $48,000 on confidence — including $7,000 for “other” for Perry’s Apr trip to Palau in a South Pacific.

From Jan by May of this year, Perry’s confidence fact spent over $210,000 in transport costs. That series could arise as new bills come in. DPS did not immediately respond to a ask for totals covering prior months. Because of Abbott’s ruling, a sum of those expenditures might never be revealed.

Issued on Jul 31, Abbott’s statute came in response to a open information ask from The Texas Tribune — not for itemized annals of a new expenditures for Perry’s latest travels, though for aged ones.

The ask was directed during removing DPS transport vouchers that would uncover what a income was being spent on, including equipment such as hotels and restaurants or other incidentals, from late 2011 by 2012.

Spending on confidence for a well-traveled administrator has been a source of unchanging controversy. In 2004, before a annals were deemed to be secret, Perry traveled to a Bahamas, and a Austin American-Statesman performed vouchers that suggested taxpayers had paid for a confidence guards’ let of scuba rigging and a golf cart.

In 2009, KEYE-TV reported that taxpayers shelled out $70,000 for a singular outing a administrator and initial lady Anita Perry took to Jerusalem, including “$17,000 for bedrooms during a swanky King David Hotel.”

By a time Perry went on a highway in bureau of a GOP presidential assignment in 2011, a DPS quit providing a document information and instead gave out tender totals for a confidence spending. The group pronounced giving out some-more fact could concede a governor’s safety. At a tallness of his run, a state was spending as most as $400,000 a month to yield confidence for Perry, total provided afterward revealed. 

Three newspapers sued to get a transport vouchers in 2007, and in 2011 a courts ultimately ruled that a state could secrete them.

Amid a controversy, a Texas Legislature stepped in with what proponents described as a clever change between supervision clarity and a confidence concerns lifted by a DPS and a governor’s office.

The check authored by then-state Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, called for a a itemized annals to sojourn trusted for a duration of 18 months. After that, they “become theme to disclosure,” a 2011 law says.

Duncan, who is now a chancellor of Texas Tech University System, was not accessible for criticism Tuesday, a Tech deputy said.

During a 2011 debate on a proposal, Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, pronounced he didn’t know how annals submitted after a transport occurred could mistreat a administrator going forward. He also pronounced restraint avowal separated an critical check opposite rubbish and abuse.

“What if they’re regulating confidence sum for nonofficial business? How can a open find out if they’ve dissipated their confidence detail?” Eltife said. “After a fact, we don’t see how it’s a confidence hazard to anybody.”

In an email, Abbott orator Jerry Strickland pronounced a statute is “dictated by a Supreme Court’s interpretation” of a grant associated to probable threats opposite a governor. That grant stays partial of a law Duncan passed.

“This statute does not change existent law,” he said.

Strickland also pronounced Abbott was not in a loop on a decision. With over 22,000 such rulings released yearly, he pronounced Abbott “does not and physically could not” examination them all, though he appoints a staff that does a job.

“Consistent with that approach, General Abbott was not wakeful of this ruling,” Strickland pronounced in a prepared statement.

Perry’s bureau referred questions about a statute to a DPS or a bureau of a profession general.

Joe Larsen, a First Amendment profession and house member for a Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, pronounced a statute from a profession general’s bureau ignores a Texas Supreme Court’s censure that a DPS should provide some-more than some “vague assertions of risk” when it seeks to secrete a records, quite given it’s been so prolonged given a transport occurred.

“This is all deceptive assertions of risk,” he said.

But Larsen pronounced a statute expected means itemized confidence transport annals will never see a light of day. He pronounced a loophole permitting a supervision to ensure opposite destiny threats is “big adequate to expostulate a sight through.”

“The AG is not going to let this out,’’ he said. “Somebody is going to have to record a lawsuit, since a AG is not going to do it.” 

Article source: http://www.texastribune.org/2014/08/13/new-ruling-keeps-old-travel-records-secret/

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