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Freedom of Information Foundation Texas

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The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is a nonprofit group that advocates for open records and open meetings in Texas. Over the years, the organization has successfully aided citizens in their search for access to government meetings and documents -- things FOIFT believes should be a matter of public record.[1] It "is the oldest and one of the largest state public information organizations in the country" and has served as a model for like-minded organizations across the country.[2]

Transparency projects

Notable campaigns

FOIFT highlighted several bills in the 2009 session as the most needed, and the most in need of defeat.

In early 2009, the organization helped spearhead the successful effort to pass the Free Flow of Information Act in the Texas legislature to create a reporter's shield law in that state.[3]

FOIFT oversees a number of projects geared toward government transparency. These include: Education for Freedom, The First Amendment Institute, the Light of Day Project, Open Government Seminars, Responsible Rights Seminars, State Conferences, and a Speakers Bureau.[4]

Awards

Honorees

FOIFT gives out an annual James Madison Award to honor those who have worked to advocate for open government.

  • The 2008 honoree was Wisconsin blogger John Washburn, who had challenged Texas Gov. Rick Perry's practice of deleting office e-mails a week after their creation.
  • The two 1999 honorees were state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, and Jack Loftis, then associate publisher and editor of the Houston Chronicle.[5]

Membership

Staff

  • Keith Elkins, a longtime Austin journalist, was FOIFT's executive director as of 2009.[6]

Officials and board members

History

FOIFT was founded in 1978 by members of the Dallas chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists with the expressed goal of "ensuring that the public's business is conducted in public."[7]

Due to a corporate restructuring in 2008 for the parent company of the Dallas Morning News, FOIFT lost the offices it had been given, rent-free, in Dallas for 20 years. The foundation moved its headquarters to Austin in early 2009.

FOIFT in the news

Governor Perry's transparency implementation (June 2008)

Under the Texas Public Information Act, government records cannot be destroyed once they have been requested by a member of the general public. However, under Gov. Rick Perry's leadership, government officials had been ordered to delete all emails older than seven days; prior to deletion, Perry ordered that emails be printed and filed away. Joseph Larson, a First Amendment lawyer and a board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, had this to say about Perry's policy:[8]

"There's simply no way that all the emails are being printed and filed. In addition to your daily work activity, you have to make sure you're printing out your emails so that it doesn't get deleted."

See also

External links

References