Judge allows depositions of TxDOT Top Brass!
In Travis County District Court yesterday, Judge Orlinda Naranjo granted Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) a continuance allowing TURF to move to the discovery phase and depose top Transportation Department (TxDOT) officials, including Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson himself.
TURF’s attorneys, Charlie Riley, David Van Os, and Andrew Hawkins outmaneuvered Attorney General counsel Kristina Silcocks to file a motion for a continuance to allow TURF to move to the discovery phase to gather evidence to show TxDOT’s top brass broke the law with the Keep Texas Moving (KTM) ad campaign and lobbying Congress to buyback interstates.
“This is a great victory for Texas taxpayers!” an elated Terri Hall, TURF’s Founder and Executive Director proclaimed. “This egregious misuse of $9 million of taxpayer money by a rogue government agency is one MAJOR step closer to being stopped.”
The tide seemed to turn when Riley showed the affidavit by TxDOT’s Helen Havelka was false. TURF uncovered this August 13, 2007 memo by Coby Chase through an Open Records request showing the Keep Texas Moving campaign was not over and in fact it has multiple phases planned with the next one fashioned to influence the upcoming Trans Texas Corridor TTC-69 NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) hearings planned for early 2008.
With a clear attempt to mislead the court by causing Judge Naranjo and the public to believe the KTM Campaign was over when in fact it isn’t, the State’s credibility and case went downhill from there.
"We've already uncovered some internal memos," said Charles Riley, TURF's attorney. "And we want to be able to ask the people who wrote those memos what exactly they're talking about when they say, 'We're gonna target this area to change people's minds. We're gonna discredit the adversaries.'" Riley said the next step is to depose individuals involved with this campaigning.
One of the documents found offered this timeless advice: "Keep calm. Leave wrestling to the pigs. They always end up looking like pigs."
"What TxDOT is doing goes way beyond anything than what the Texas Legislature intended. If the Legislature did intend that, then the legislation is unconstitutional," attorney David van Os said.
Kristina Silcocks, who represents TxDOT from the attorney general's office, did not want to speak on camera.