A southeast Texas newspaper continues to fight what it says is the unlawful hiring of former Republican U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold as a lobbyist for the Calhoun County Port Authority.
In May, the Victoria Advocate sued the port authority, alleging it violated the Texas Open Meetings Act when the port did not notify the public that its board would be meeting to consider Farenthold’s hiring. Now, while another court considers whether the port authority did indeed violate the law, the paper wants an appeals court to try to prevent Farenthold from getting paid.
Chris Cobler, editor and publisher of the Victoria Advocate, says the port authority shouldn’t be allowed to pay Farenthold’s $160,000 fee since, the paper asserts, the former congressman’s hiring was illegal.
“We’re asking that until this suit is settled, whether we win or lose, he should have his money set aside in escrow,” Cobler says. “But if this hiring was illegal – and we are fairly certain it was – then there’s no reason the public should still be on the hook for his pay.”
Cobler says the newspaper filed the suit “on behalf of the public.”
“We want to be sure, in all of this, that the public’s right to know about an open meeting in which a port hires a lobbyist for $160,000 and doesn’t tell anyone, is known,” Cobler says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.