Open government in Texas

Americans generally accept some secrets in government in the short-term for security reasons because we know that the truth will eventually come out.

Not so much in Texas.

As it turns out, the Texas Department of Public safety “purged” their records of information related to the security costs of the Governor prior to 2008. This little fit of housecleaning occurred despite media and watchdog group requests for this information. In a suspicious Catch-22, we have been assured that releasing such information at the time would compromise security. We are also told  that this information can not be retained so that spending could be scrutinized at a later date.

Texas taxpayers will never be told how much money is spent on the Governor’s security as he traveled around his various official and political activities. This flies in the face of the state’s long history of open government.

Democracy needs citizens to have access to the information they can use to the performance of their government. The call for openness has been bipartisan and Perry’s continued opposition to open government should not be mistaken for conservatism simply because if protects the political ambitions of a conservative candidate. Ironically, Perry’s latest fight against open government comes as he is seeking the support of “Tea Party” supporters who distrust government.

This is not Perry’s first clash with advocates of open government. In 2007 the Governor’s office began a battle with John Washburn and other advocates of open government who learned that the governor’s office was routinely deleting email records in an attempt to keep their activities from being scrutinized.

**July 25 Update**

The DPS is now saying that they actually saved some of those records. However, they’re still not interested in letting the public in on their secret.


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