JUNE 29, 2011
Texas legislators have colluded with the governor to conceal public records associated with his extensive travel schedule by adding a secrecy clause to an unrelated education bill.The unscrupulous move comes as the Republican governor, Rick Perry, expands his travel schedule to explore a 2012 presidential run. Many of the trips are unrelated to state business (he’s meeting with party leaders and fundraisers in California this week) and several local media outlets are embroiled in a nasty legal battle to obtain the travel vouchers of Perry’s security detail.Two lower courts have ruled that the information should be public record and Perry has appealed the decisions to the Texas Supreme Court. In the meantime, the two-term governor had his lawmaker buddies help him out by enacting a measure to keep the information secret until it’s no longer that relevant.They did it by amending an existing school finance bill that passed in the Texas House and Senate this week. The last-minute addition will keep details of travel vouchers submitted by Perry’s Department of Public Safety security team secret for 18 months after trips are completed. By then Perry could be the nation’s commander-in-chief.One state senator (Republican Robert Duncan) justifies the new measure in a local newspaper by saying that it provides “a more balanced approach” than legislation that would have kept records permanently out of public view. Perry claims that releasing his security team’s taxpayer-funded travel expenses would compromise his safety.
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