If it seems like facts no longer matter in politics, there’s a sliver of good news:
Investigative journalists are still writing powerful, evidence-based stories that help us understand a complicated world.
Here are the latest examples of watchdog stories in Texas that show why facts still matter.
Gov. Greg Abbott’s appointees have given him more than $14 million | The San Antonio Express-News
“Despite pleas for more diversity and less of a big-money presence, Gov. Greg Abbott’s appointments to state boards and commissions remain mostly Anglo, largely male and liberally sprinkled with donors to a giant campaign war chest years in the making, a San Antonio Express-News analysis shows.” Story by Peggy Fikac and Annie Millerbernd
Cruel and unusual: Dallas County teen inmates locked indoors for months | The Dallas Morning News
We just published a months-long investigation that revealed that teenage boys locked up in Dallas County went months, sometimes more than a year, without going outdoors more than a few times. https://t.co/wk3TlV3PMU pic.twitter.com/IgGAW8kTdi
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) December 21, 2017
“Death row inmates in Texas are given at least an hour a week outdoors. Hardened criminals inside California’s famous San Quentin prison get 10 hours. Yet kids at a Dallas County correctional center for boys went months, sometimes more than a year, without going outdoors more than a few times.” Story by Steve Thompson and Naomi Martin
How a South Texas bureaucrat became a multimillionaire amid the rush to build a border fence | The Texas Tribune and ProPublica
— Kiah Collier (@KiahCollier) December 29, 2017
“A decade ago as the federal government rushed to construct 60 miles of barrier in the Rio Grande Valley, it entrusted the chief of a little-known local agency to execute a compromise project. What it didn’t know was that he — and his family — stood to make millions from it.” Story by Kiah Collier, T. Christian Miller and Julian Aguilar
“Email records obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders confirm that the recently hired operations coordinator for the Housing Authority of Bexar County tried to arrange a large raise for herself, 10 weeks after starting her position. The employee, Amy Hopper, resigned in October, hours after the Defenders requested emails related to the pay increase.” Story by Dillon Collier
Bibles, boots and booze: Lawmakers go big with campaign cash gifts | The San Antonio Express-News
— John Tedesco (@John_Tedesco) December 20, 2017
“It’s the season for giving. But state lawmakers already have been gifting generously all year, using campaign cash to buy spa services, alcohol, porch rockers, Bibles and other items for their staff, constituents and fellow legislators.” Story by Allie Morris
For buyers within ‘flood pools,’ no warnings from developers, public officials | The Houston Chronicle
Public officials and developers never warned the buyers within ‘flood pools’ of Houston’s reservoirs and 9,000 structures flooded during Harvey.
Now a large group of homeowners is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dams. https://t.co/fHzpy2gepZ
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) December 21, 2017
“A Houston Chronicle review of how more than 100 subdivisions were approved shows that flooding spawned by Harvey was predicted for 26 years in obscure local and federal reports that were either ignored or not widely distributed. The record rainfall came from nature, but its impact was multiplied by man.” Story by Lise Olsen
— Emily Ramshaw (@eramshaw) January 9, 2018
Texas Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff repeatedly conducted private business in Austin while the Texas Department of Transportation paid for his travel and other expenses, blurring the lines between his role as a gubernatorial appointee and his paid consulting gigs, according to a Texas Tribune investigation of government travel vouchers and agency correspondence. Story by Jay Root