Sam Houston, Democratic nominee for Texas Attorney General, says applications for the Texas Enterprise Fund will be available to the public and media when he takes office.
Houston says the growing scandal about the misappropriation of money from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) demonstrates the need for transparency in the AG’s office.
“The dollars awarded by TEF and the other economic development incentive programs are tax dollars—they belong to the people of Texas,” said Houston. “The Attorney General should help ensure that this money is awarded openly, fairly and legally. When I am Attorney General, these documents will be made available to the public with as few exceptions as legally possible. Most importantly, as Attorney General I will never rule that documents that don’t exist in the first place are somehow confidential.”
According to a recent report from the State Auditor’s Office, nearly half of the $500 million awarded by TEF in the past ten years went to businesses and universities that did not file an application for the money. Houston pointed out that this discrepancy might have been uncovered earlier if the Attorney General had ruled differently and simply disclosed that there was not an application filed, a fact that has now been reported in the press. (Dallas Morning News, Sept. 29, 2014)
“If the Attorney General had ruled ten years ago that this process should be open and transparent, we wouldn’t find ourselves in this situation today,” said Houston. “That’s one of the reasons we have open records laws—so that Texans can be assured that their tax dollars are being spent appropriately.
Houston also challenged his opponent, Ken Paxton, himself under scrutiny for questionable financial dealings, to come forward and tell the voters of Texas how he would handle this important issue of public trust. “My opponent needs to explain how the people of Texas can trust him to resolve these kinds of issues when he has already admitted to breaking the law.
“I will restore trust and transparency to the Attorney General’s Office. I will represent all Texans, regardless of political party,” said Houston. “Unlike my opponent, who continues to hide from voters and the media and is ducking a debate with me, I am traveling the state talking to people and local media. Four weeks ago I challenged my opponent to a debate so he can explain why he admitted to a third degree felony. But he continues to hide. Texans need to demand that Ken Paxton show up and defend himself. If he won’t defend himself, how can we expect him to defend Texas?”