In 2019, Texas Scorecard reported on a new open records law set to go into effect in 2020 that aimed to close a loophole allowing cities to withhold government contracts from the public. The law was inspired by controversy dating back to 2015, when the City of McAllen paid popular singer Enrique Iglesias an undisclosed amount to perform a concert at the city’s Christmas parade. The city claimed disclosing such information would limit their ability to negotiate with other performers in the future.
At the time, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton concurred with the city’s privilege, pointing to a Texas Supreme Court ruling that expanded the width of permissible government conduct in relation to exemptions from public records law. It was later discovered the event cost the city a total of $771,000, with $583,000 being lost on the concert alone.
With the advent of the new year, however, the new law has gone into effect, and that contract has now been disclosed. It had been revealed that city leaders paid Enrique Iglesias a massive $485,000 in taxpayer dollars. The contract also dictated that the city arrange for Iglesias to be flown from Guadalajara, Mexico, and pay for 24 hotel rooms for two nights with a host of amenities. These amenities included long, detailed lists of catering expected to be provided.
For example: the contract requests that Iglesias’ dressing room have three 8-foot tables, four sets of china, one bottle of vodka, two bottles of Grey Goose, diet Red Bull, and 36 bottles of FIJI natural spring water, among a list of other items that takes up a whole page.
And that list is just for his dressing room. The 32-page contract has similar lists for the dressing rooms of the singer’s entire band and crew. The contract also dictates the details for the stage and lighting, which further contributed to the concert’s cost.
The new law affords taxpayers a mechanism by which to hold their elected officials accountable for the use of tax dollars, and it also prohibits provisions that prevent disclosure from being added into municipal contracts.