In 2015, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in Boeing Co. v. Paxton that records could be kept secret if their release would put the government or businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
The Boeing decision blew a gaping hole in the Texas Public Information Act. It’s been used to keep the public in the dark about a $265 million deal to build a new power plant in Denton; to withhold a food service contract at Kemp ISD; and to hide the identities of candidates who applied for the Austin city manager job last year. The ruling was cited in at least 1,850 decisions blocking the release of information to the public under Ken Paxton since 2015, according to the AG’s office.
“The ruling is being stretched and used in ways that weren’t even imaginable when it came out,” said Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. Its effects are “pervasive, and infecting communities across Texas,” she said.