Operation Jump Start: Looking for the Paper Trail

Our first open records request for Operation Jump Start has come back empty-handed, with the governor’s office of Texas saying it has no documents responsive to requests for evidence of the governor’s approval of the mission, a dated memo that actually inaugurates the operation, or any other documents that would help to establish a documentary trail of the governor’s involvement.

As for Use of Force rules, the Governor’s office does have that, but wants to not turn it over, so the Texas Attorney General will be asked to rule.

In my many years of experience with open records requests, this is a quite peculiar result.

Here’s the letter from the governor’s office:

We received on June 8, 2006 your request under the Public Information Act (the “PIA”) for the following information:

“…provide the following documents referenced in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) released by the Governor’s office June 4, 2006. By term document I intend to reference both paper and electronic forms of communication, including pdf and email.

(1) The first phrase of the MOU says “In response to a request”. Please provide the document that initiates the request.

(2) Item five of the MOU references “disbursement of Jump Start funds”. Please provide all documents that cover any disbursements to date (June 8, 2006.)

(3) Item five of the MOU references “approval of missions” by the Governor. Please provide all documents issued by the Governor approving missions to date (June 8, 2006.)

(4) Item six of the MOU references Rules for Use of Force “attached”. Please provide the Rules.

(5) Item eight of the MOU references “date of signature”. Please provide the dated document that officially authorizes the commencement of Operation Jump start. In addition to these documents related to the MOU, I would like to follow up on a comment made by Guard Chief Gen. Blum in a May 16 press conference (posted at the DHS website) indicating that legal review of Operation Jump start was already underway with state –level authorities.

(6) Please provide documents that indicate the earliest requests for involvement of the Governor’s Office of General Counsel in the operation that has come to be know as Operation Jump Start.

(7) Please provide documents that indicate the earliest request for involvement of the Governor in preliminary assessments of Operation Jump Start.”

Our search revealed that we only have documents responsive to Item number 4 of your request. However, we believe that the responsive information is excepted from disclosure under the PIA.

Therefore, pursuant to Section 522.301 of the PIA, we have requested an opinion from the Attorney General. A copy of that request is enclosed for your review.

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