Another company under contract for a taxpayer-funded marketing plan refused to answer my questions when I called to ask how long their company has been active.

Recently, I’ve been investigating a water conservation marketing campaign that the scandal-ridden TRWD is operating with the City of Dallas and the North Texas Municipal Water District. When TRWD appealed to Attorney General Ken Paxton for permission to withhold public contracts requested by Texas Scorecard, we learned from TRWD’s appeal the names of two of their contracted companies: Charlie Uniform Tango and RO Two Media.

To get to the bottom of this story and find out which parties are benefiting from this taxpayer-funded marketing campaign, I decided to try to talk directly to the companies involved.

I called CUT with some questions earlier this month, but that conversation quickly hit a brick wall after I asked Executive Producer Jeff Elmore for a comment on TRWD’s appeal to Paxton. Elmore stuttered and refused to comment.

I also dialed Rodrigo Vallejo, the president of RO Two Media. Vallejo had previously sent us a copy of a letter to the Attorney General regarding the rationale for wanting to withhold information about his company’s government contracts, saying he believes “making any of this information public would cause us substantial competitive harm.”

When Vallejo picked up, I asked if I could inquire about his contracts with the TRWD.

“It’s proprietary information,” he replied, “but there are some things I can say.”

My first question was very simple: “How long has your company been active?”

Vallejo stammered. “Uh, you know what, I’m not trying to release all that information,” he replied.

When I pressed further, Vallejo asked me for my credentials. I said I would email him my questions.

“I’ll run it over to the Tarrant Water District, and if they’re fine with me sharing information, I’m fine with that,” he said.

I followed up with Vallejo this week, but he was even more curt this time.

“I asked [TRWD]. We don’t want disclosure. We’re not going to disclose,” he said.

When I asked why no information would be disclosed, Vallejo told me there was no reason he should say anything. “It’s a private contract, so there’s no need to disclose that information.”

But it’s not private—the taxpayers are paying for it. While Vallejo may not have to disclose this information, TRWD does; however, not only have they appealed to the Attorney General, they have now also told Vallejo to stay quiet.

In summary, TRWD has joined with the City of Dallas and the NTMWD to spend millions of citizens’ cash on a water conservation marketing campaign; the water district has since appealed to the Attorney General to keep the campaign’s contracts secret from those paying for it; and now two of the contracted companies won’t say a peep about the campaign.

Why all the secrecy around a taxpayer-funded marketing campaign asking people to “use less water”? Texas Scorecard will keep investigating.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.


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