in Houston, Texas
Secrecy will continue as Governor Rick Perry travels
Monday, May 14, 2012, 12:08PM CST
By Mark Lisheron

District Judge Scott Jenkins did what the Texas Legislature didn’t do in the last session: allow Gov. Rick Perry to keep the records of travel for his security detail a secret.

The ruling gave little pleasure to Jenkins, who said in an Austin American-Statesman story last week, "It's a sad, sad world where we have to do this ... and it leads to less transparency."

Right or wrong, Jenkins was hardly capricious in his ruling. The lawsuit, brought by the state’s major newspapers, has kicked around the courts for five years.

In 2008 Jenkins ruled the public had the right to know what it was paying for when the governor traveled with a taxpayer-financed Department of Public Safety security entourage. The governor had argued the release of those travel records could put a governor’s safety in jeopardy.

The 3rd Court of Appeals upheld Jenkins’ ruling. The Texas Supreme Court vacated those rulings in favor of the safety of the elected official.

Last May, the Legislature considered but failed to pass a bill that would have kept those travel records private.

Chastened by the high court, Jenkins said he had little choice in his latest ruling. After reviewing some of the travel records, Jenkins said he could see travel patterns that might be taken advantage of by someone who meant harm to the governor.

William Christian, the lawyers for the newspapers, was saddened, too, by the ruling. "It's a sad day when every requestor (under the Texas Public Information Act) is being treated like Osama bin Laden," the Statesman says Christian told the judge.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of travel guides by Fickr user Venessa (EY), used via the Creative Commons license.

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