SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Texas attorney general Ken Paxton announced Monday he is suing the City of San Antonio over its decision to ban Chick-fil-A from San Antonio International Airport in March.
Paxton stated he filed a petition in Travis County District Court against the city seeking to compel it to hand over documents believed to be public under state law.
In a statement, the attorney general said the city council members who spearheaded the move to ban the Georgia-based chicken chain did not attempt to hide their discriminatory motives.
“One branded the company out of line with ‘our core values as a city,’” Paxton wrote. “Yet another council member denounced Chick-fil-A as a ‘symbol of hate.’”
The attorney general’s office opened an investigation into the city council’s actions in late March and Paxton said Monday the City of San Antonio has refused to comply. He said the city instead claimed an exemption to disclosing information to the state.
“The City of San Antonio claims that it can hide documents because it anticipates being sued, but we’ve simply opened an investigation using the Public Information Act. If a mere investigation is enough to excuse the City of San Antonio from its obligation to be transparent with the people of Texas, then the Public Information Act is a dead letter. The city’s extreme position only highlights its fear about allowing any sunshine on the religious bigotry that animated its decision.”
The City of San Antonio released a statement disputing the attorney general’s actions in the lawsuit.
The city said late Monday afternoon it had requested a ruling from the Open Records Division of the Attorney General’s office to determine whether the documents related to the investigation were releasable. It said the city had already provided nearly 250 pages of documents to that division for review.
“Instead of allowing the routine process take its course, the AG decided to sue and not wait for a decision from his own department,” said city attorney Andy Segovia. “The attorney general notified the press before any communication with the city, or even before the city was served with the suit.”
The city wants the Open Records Division to make its ruling on the matter, which the city said it would comply with.
“The State Attorney General’s office has not specified the legislative authority they are relying on to investigate the airport contract,” the city’s statement said. “Furthermore, it is clear from the strident comments in his press release that any “investigation” would be a pretense to justify his own conclusions.
San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement to KTSA News that this is all just political posturing.
“The city responded to Attorney General Paxton’s request for documents seeking clarification, which he never gave,” the mayor stated. “The fact that he went straight to filing a lawsuit instead of simply answering our questions proves this is all staged political theater.”
Nirenberg’s re-election campaign, however, went even further in its statement to KTSA News, saying, “The political theater continues. The only person who injected religion into this issue is Councilman Brockhouse and now the City has to deal with the consequences of his gamesmanship.”
City councilman and mayoral candidate Greg Brockhouse offered KTSA News his own response to both Paxton and Nirenberg:
“What’s shocking about this is that according to the attorney general the city is trying to withhold public documents. You can’t do that. All of this secrecy stuff and not honoring open records request, legitimate open records request, goes back to Sheryl [Sculley]. I can’t tell you how many people in the media have complained to me that legitimate request were being sent to the attorney general or just outright ignored. If Ron had shown any leadership on this issue, one way or another it would have been behind us by now and we can move on to other things. His poor leadership and bad decision-making has us retracing our steps over and over. It’s already cost us 11.4 million dollars in FAA grants. Now we’re going to waste legal fees trying to defend withholding public documents from the attorney general.”
FAA to investigate San Antonio airport’s Chick-fil-A ban