The Tarrant Regional Water District has filed an appeal with Attorney General Ken Paxton to block taxpayers from seeing contracts for a marketing campaign they are funding.

Last month, Texas Scorecard reported how the City of Dallas renewed an agreement with the TRWD for a $3.3 million, five-year marketing campaign promoting water conservation at taxpayer expense. This is an arrangement that began back in 2009.

In an attempt to determine who benefits from this campaign and how, Texas Scorecard submitted an open records request last month to the TRWD requesting “documents corresponding to all contracts between the TRWD and any or all media outlets or any other organization.”

Seventeen days later, TRWD responded that they wanted to “withhold a portion of the responsive information sought in the Request” and appealed to the Texas Attorney General for a decision.

In August, the law firm representing TRWD—Pope, Hardwicke, Christie, Schell, Kelly & Taplett—sent Texas Scorecard a copy of both the letter and accompanying documents they sent to the attorney general. The letter states that TRWD wants to withhold the contracts because “[r]elease of the responsive information will put the District at a disadvantage from obtaining competitive bids from consultants [REDACTED].”

Interestingly, the agreement between the City of Dallas and the TRWD states that Dallas would pay the TRWD for the work of whichever businesses they contract with. The same would apply should the North Texas Municipal Water District join as well, which Dallas and the TRWD are actively working towards. All money for this campaign would flow through the TRWD to the media companies under contract.

Why does the TRWD feel they need to hide the contracts for a water conservation marketing campaign from taxpayers? Is there something taxpayers would be shocked to find?

Robert Montoya

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