"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
[Update: The Statesman has more here.]
Oh good grief:
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg is suing to block the release of records about a controversial agreement that allows a giant insurance company to pay her office more than $400,000 a year to investigate the insurer’s fraud cases.Read the whole thing here.
The Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman requested the records under the Texas Public Information Act as part of a months-long investigation of the government prosecutors’ unusual and chummy relationship with Texas Mutual Insurance Company. Attorney General Ken Paxton ruled last month that Travis County must turn over the records, and now Lehmberg has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to reverse his decision.
In the petition, Lehmberg argues in part that her office and Texas Mutual share a “privity of interest” in the prosecution of the company’s fraud cases. Citing exceptions to transparency laws that shield certain records of third parties or private companies working with the government, Lehmberg claims that even records of negotiations over the public contract with the insurer must remain secret.
Texas Mutual and the Travis County district attorney’s office are referred to as TMI and TCDAO in the lawsuit, filed last week and provided to the Tribune and the Statesman on Tuesday.
The attorney general’s office ruled that those two provisions allowing the government to shield the release of public records are “discretionary” and no longer apply because the district attorney’s office waited too long to fight the request from the Tribune and Statesman. The two sides disagree about the amount of time Lehmberg had to oppose release of the documents.
Paxton’s office said that a government entity’s failure to comply with “procedural requirements “results in the legal presumption that the information is public and must be released, unless a government body demonstrates a compelling reason to withhold the information to overcome this presumption.”
Texas Mutual, the largest provider of workers' compensation insurance in Texas by a long shot, has contracted with the Travis County district attorney's office since at least 2000. In the 2014 fiscal year, the company authorized payments of $430,000 to the district attorney's office to prosecute alleged “crimes committed against the company.”
Bottom Line: Cronies gotta crony.