Texas Attorney General Issues Opinion In Favor of Southside Light Publisher and Coastal Bend Ratepayers

(Southside Light News) -- It has been a back forth battle between Southside Light News Publisher Matt Briscoe and the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) over open records and this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ruled in favor of Briscoe and his news organization in their search for public records.

Back in December of 2019, Briscoe made the decision to publish emails and documents that he had obtained from sources inside TWIA that showed possible corruption and mismanagement within the group. Weeks after releasing the emails, then TWIA Board Chairman Bryan Schofner sent a letter to Briscoe via state lawmakers demanding that he remove the report and retract it or that the Board would consider taking legal action against him and his news organization.

From there the dispute became vicious with TWIA going to extreme measures to keep the records from being released. Starting in mid-January, very specific Public Information Requests were sent asking for specific communications and documents. TWIA then asked the Attorney General for an opinion as to if they had to release the information and if so, to what extent?

This week, Attorney general Paxton said that TWIA could not invoke attorney-client privilage in the matter (a point that they had tried to claim), and the documents are likely to show even further damage to TWIA and their credibility.

"This is a win for our community and open government," said Briscoe. "We have proven that we will not back down from governmental bodies or officials who demonstrate such tyrannical actions at any level."

Briscoe says that he has been advised by his attorney that TWIA has 30 days to release the documents. If they still choose not to do it then they could easily sue for them.

"We as a news organization are fighting for the rights and best interests on our community and serving as an advocate for them on every front," said Briscoe. "I want this to send a message and put people on notice that we are fighting for our community and we expect to see a fully transparent and open government at all levels."