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Politics & Policy

Texas AG Sues for Access to Records Related to San Antonio’s Chick-fil-A Ban

Texas AG Ken Paxton (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton filed suit on Tuesday against the city of San Antonio in order to obtain access to records related to the banning of Chick-fil-A from the city’s airport.

“The City of San Antonio claims that it can hide documents because it anticipates being sued,” Paxton said in a statement. “But we’ve simply opened an investigation using the Public Information Act.”

“If a mere investigation is enough to excuse the City of San Antonio from its obligation to be transparent with the people of Texas, then the Public Information Act is a dead letter,” Paxson added. “The city’s extreme position only highlights its fear about allowing any sunshine on the religious bigotry that animated its decision.”

The San Antonio City Council passed a motion in March that made the exclusion of Chick-fil-A a prerequisite for the renewal of the airport concession contractor’s license.

“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” Councilman Roberto Treviño said in a statement at the time. “Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”

In response, Paxton opened an investigation into whether the move, which was motivated by a report showing that Chick-fil-A donated to a number of charities that espouse traditional Christian sexual ethics, violated state law. As part of the investigation he requested all records related to the Chick-fil-A ban.

San Antonio deputy city attorney Edward Guzman then sent a letter to Paxton on April 24 informing him that the city would seek to withhold certain records based on 63 exceptions to the state’s Public Information Act, according to Paxton’s suit.

The San Antonio City council Responded to Paxton’s suit by pointing out that it was still waiting to hear from the Attorney General’s Office’s Open Records Division regarding what documents they were required to turn over.

“Under the Texas Public Information Act, the City had requested a ruling from the Open Records Division of the AG — a routine request made to the AG’s office daily — as to whether documents related to the Council’s decision on the airport concessions contract were releasable, given that the Attorney General had already announced an investigation,” the statement read. “The City provided nearly 250 pages of documents for review by the Open Records Division and is still waiting for a decision.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Attorney Andy Segovia chastised Paxton for resorting to a lawsuit rather than waiting for the records request to play out according to the normal process.

“The fact that he went straight to filing a lawsuit instead of simply answering our questions proves this is all staged political theater,” Mayor Nirenberg said.

“Instead of allowing the routine process to take its course, the AG decided to sue and not wait for a decision from his own department,” Segovia said. “The Attorney General notified the press before any communication with the City, or even before the City was served with the suit.”