Watchdog group sues Abbott and Paxton for communications with NRA

by | Jul 1, 2022 | Courts, News

The corruption watchdog nonprofit American Oversight has filed a lawsuit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton to compel the release of emails and texts the group has sought over the past 15 months.

The lawsuit is seeking communications from the two elected officials and other high-level staffers surrounding the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Specficially, the watchdog group is seeking email, texts and communications by these Texas officials with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-gun advocacy groups like the Texas State Rifle Association. The group is also after any communications Texas Attorney General Paxton’s office had around the time Paxton gave a speech at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally

American Oversight had previously sought the communications via public records requests offered to anyone by the Texas Public Information Act. Abbott and Paxton’s offices denied the requests, citing threats to security or attorney-client privileges. 

The lawsuit comes less than a week after nine congressional Democrats from Texas pressured Paxton to release government records related to the May 24 Uvalde mass shooting. 

In the letter, the seven Democrats said changing accounts about the shooting and unproductive finger-pointing among state and local officials have compounded the trauma and led to a cover up.

“The City of Uvalde is seeking to delay access to documents and video footage to the families, press, and public,” the lawmakers wrote. “You have been asked to justify the effort to conceal information under the Texas Public Information law. I strongly encourage your office to issue a ruling that exceptions to the Texas Public Information law are inapplicable when used to conceal information related to the shooting in Uvalde. Information about what transpired that day should not be withheld due to an exemption that exists to protect innocent people, of which the shooter in Uvalde is not. The public is entitled to the truth.”

Likewise last week, Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, sued the Texas Department of Public Safety to acquire documents about the massacre that were denied to him.

“In the wake of the senseless tragedy, the people of Uvalde and Texas have demanded answers from their government,” Gutierrez said. “To date, they have been met with lies, misstatements, and shifts of blame.”

In Austin, Republicans recently wrapped up their Senate-led committee to address the mass shooting in Uvalde and prevent others. The committee hearings ultimately featured very little focus on gun reform.

Photo: © Texas Signal Media Company

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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