City Spent $157,000 to Defend Council Violations
City Spent $157,636 to Defend Council Violations
Payments for private lawyers for mayor,
council members in criminal investigation
Investigative Report by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Monday April 8, 2013 3:33pm
On the eve of the City of Austin’s Open Government Symposiumslated for April 17, The Austin Bulldog’s investigation found that the City of Austin quietly paid $157,636 for attorneys to defend six elected city officials (not including Council Member Kathie Tovo) and former Council Member Randi Shade during County Attorney David Escamilla’s 21-month criminal investigation of the City Council’s violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act.
These expenses—plus $444,000 the Austin American-Statesman reported June 17, 2012, that the city had authorized to spend with three law firms for advice on matters related to complying with the Texas Open Meetings Act—means taxpayers have shelled out more than $600,000 since The Austin Bulldog broke the story of these violations January 25, 2011.
Deferred Prosecution Ends Open Meetings Investigation
- Deferred Prosecution Ends Open Meetings Investigation
- Mayor and five current council members sign agreements
- waiving the statute of limitations and requiring major reforms
- by Ken Martin
- © The Austin Bulldog 2012
- Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2012 11:54pm
Travis County Attorney David Escamilla today issued a seven-page press release to announce the results of an investigation that began 21 months ago into the question of whether then-members of the Austin City Council violated the Texas Open Meetings Act.
“This investigation was always about compliance with the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) and other legal standards requiring transparency at City Hall, which are crucial to ensuring a government that is accountable and responsive to its citizens,” Escamilla’s statement says.
The investigation found no evidence of corruption, but voluminous proof of communications among the mayor and council members by every means possible, the sum of which violate the criminal provisions of the Act.
The agreements signed by each elected official affirm long lists of detailed, specific communications among the council members that constitute probable cause. These include specific dates on which a quorum of the council communicated face-to-face, in phone calls, and via e-mail and text messages.