We're thrilled as can be that our very own Jennifer Peebles grabbed yet another award!
This time, it's a national honor, so we are very happy. Below is the press release we put out about Jennifer and the award which honored her Freedom of Information work here in Texas.
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Houston, Texas, August 24, 2009 -- This year's Capitolbeat John Aubuchon Freedom of Information Award was awarded to Texas Watchdog Deputy Editor Jennifer Peebles.
Peebles won by creating an interactive map on the Texas Watchdog news site that allowed anyone to download the ethics forms of Texas state lawmakers. These forms can be treasure troves of information, showing legislators' potential conflicts of interest and detailing their business interests.
Until Peebles created this map, it was difficult for anyone to get these documents -- the state does not make them available online.
Check out the original map and story here.
The award was given for more than just that single story and map, though. The map made national news. And people who downloaded these forms flooded Texas Watchdog with tips about potential conflicts of interests of lawmakers.
Some of the stories that Texas Watchdog has since published based on the tips that rolled in include:
* State Sen. Royce West's firm earned $1M from public agencies, many aided by his legislation
* Lawmakers' relatives work for GEO Group prison co. as state weighs clamp-down on embattled firm
* State Sen. Rodney Ellis' private firm stands to profit from bond package he championed for HISD
* Former state Rep. Fred Hill now lobbying on behalf of cities, counties
"We're very happy that Capitolbeat, made up of statehouse reporters from all over the United States, bestowed Texas Watchdog and Jennifer Peebles with this award," said Texas Watchdog editor Trent Seibert. "Jennifer's work led to many other stories and helped put Texas Watchdog on the national stage."
For more information:
Editor Trent Seibert at 713-980-9776 (desk) or 832-316-4994 (cell).
Deputy Editor Lee Ann O'Neal at 713-980-9777 (desk).
Texas Watchdog wins national FOI award; Capitolbeat, the association of statehouse reporters, gives Texas Watchdog's Jennifer Peebles top honor
Monday, Aug 24, 2009, 11:52AM CST
By Trent Seibert