State agencies across Texas are attempting to charge exorbitant amounts of money in exchange for documents relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
A recent investigation into the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) led Texas Scorecard to discover leftist ideologies within state agencies. The agency has promoted “preferred” pronouns within government email signatures, taxpayer-funded inclusivity training and DEI classes, and segregated employee resource groups.
This prompted Texas Scorecard to launch more investigations into taxpayer-funded agencies across the state.
Texas Scorecard attempted to obtain information regarding the presence of leftist ideologies in 13 state agencies through open records requests under the Texas Public Information Act.
The 13 agencies were TxDOT, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, the Texas Military Department, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Health and Human Services, the Texas Veterans Commission, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Department of Banking, the State Bar of Texas, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
On July 26 and 27, Texas Scorecard requested communications referencing diversity, equity, inclusion, employee resource groups, pronoun(s), LGBTQIA+, affirmation, and affirmative action from each of the aforementioned agencies—aside from TxDOT, which received its request on July 17.
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) immediately worked with Texas Scorecard to provide the records requested. However, they appealed to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) asking if they have to release certain records. CPRIT is still awaiting a ruling.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission requested clarification, and then—once clarification was provided—they appealed to the OAG and have not received a response yet.
TxDOT, the State Bar of Texas (SBoT), and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) immediately appealed to the OAG in an attempt to hide records related to the request.
Thirty days ago, TxDOT appealed but also sent heavily redacted files to Texas Scorecard. Since their appeal, there has not been any movement on the request.
The SBoT offered the redacted files that they did not appeal for $900. After further clarification, the SBoT withdrew its appeal to the OAG and opted to charge $1,821 for the documents.
Additionally, several other agencies have requested payments for Texas Scorecard to obtain the records.
THECB sent out a 15-day briefing for an OAG ruling to speed up the appeals process. They are attempting to charge $1,656 for the non-privileged records.
The Texas Department of Banking (TDoB) also appealed to the OAG but requested a payment of $798 for the documents they are not withholding.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) requested a payment of $2,048 for the requested documents, while the Texas Health and Human Services (THHS) requested $378, and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice requested $4,842.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) waited the allotted 10 days to respond to the request and then asked for clarification. Texas Scorecard answered the next day. After waiting the allotted 10 days once again, TPWD informed Texas Scorecard that they would be charging $48.5k for the records.
“But the current version hardly resembles its former self,” Quintero continued. “It’s riddled with loopholes and exceptions, and governments routinely abuse the appeals process to withhold public documents and data. Its dilapidated state should concern us all.”
Quintero called for state legislators to fix the TPIA.
“Next session, state lawmakers should overhaul the PIA to ensure maximum transparency. As part of that effort, they should create penalties for governments that seek to excessively withhold public information on spurious grounds,” said Quintero.
Texas Scorecard has since requested to inspect the records from the state agencies requiring payment. This will allow investigators to decide which records are worth paying for.
Texas Scorecard has also provided further clarification to the Texas Military Department, Texas Veterans Commission, and the Texas Education Agency and is awaiting responses.