"Abbott does an about-face on open records," is the editorial published in the Saturday Austin American-Statesman.
Attorney General Greg Abbott’s recent ruling that Texas prison officials do not have to disclose the source of the state’s execution drug was a defeat for open government and brings into question Abbott’s commitment to government transparency.
The decision, issued May 29, represents a change of mind for Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor. Three times since 2010, the attorney general had stood with the Texas Public Information Act and rejected attempts by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to keep secret the source of the drug it uses in lethal injections. His office, citing lack of proof provided by the department, rejected arguments that disclosing the information would endanger the drug suppliers.
This time, however, Abbott agreed that revealing the supplier’s name would put it at “substantial threat of physical harm.” Abbott’s office relied on a “threat assessment” from Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw for allowing the open-records exception. McCraw’s letter referred to threats made against The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy, a Houston-area pharmacy that previously supplied the state with pentobarbital, the barbiturate it uses in lethal injections, but didn’t specify what the threats were or what was being done about them.
We have never before had occasion to question Abbott’s commitment to open government. Unfortunately, with his about-face on this important issue, that’s no longer the case.
Earlier coverage of the Texas Attorney General's Open Records Decision begins at the link.