News Roundup: Public Records and Trans Rights in Texas

In June, the Texas attorney general’s office sought to gather data on transgender Texans — by asking the state Department of Public Safety to create a list of people who had changed their gender on their driver’s license.

The request by Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, reported by the Washington Post on Wednesday, is yet another example of how state leaders, including Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott, “have been publicly marshaling resources against transgender Texans.”

  • In the article, the Post highlights records obtained by American Oversight related to Abbott’s February directive that the provision of gender-affirming care for children be investigated as child abuse. Read more about those records here.

Paxton’s June request for the data was revealed in emails obtained by the Post through a public records request to the Department of Public Safety. Those messages “repeatedly referred to the request as coming from the attorney general’s office.” 

  • The Post also said it made requests to Paxton’s office for any records related to gender changes on driver’s licenses that state agencies compiled based on his office’s direction, as well as for any related emails between his office and state agencies.
  • But in response, the office said no such records existed. An assistant attorney general even reportedly asked the Post, “Why would the Office of the Attorney General have gathered this information?” The office later defended this response, saying that “none of the records provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety are communications with the Office of the Attorney General.”
  • This summer, American Oversight sued Paxton’s and Abbott’s offices for communications with the gun lobby as well as messages sent from personal accounts. Read more about our investigation into Texas leaders’ failures of transparency here.
The Jan. 6 Investigation and Election Denial

The House select committee investigating Jan. 6 is planning to release its full report next Wednesday. Here are some other headlines related to the investigation into the attack and into Trump’s and his allies efforts to overturn the 2020 election:

  • As House January 6 committee winds down, it is abandoning efforts to subpoena phone records (CNN)
  • Mark Meadows exchanged texts with 34 members of Congress about plans to overturn the 2020 election (Talking Points Memo)
  • Special counsel sends Trump subpoena to Ga. Secretary of State Raffensperger (Washington Post)
  • An intel analyst tried to prevent the Jan. 6 attack — but DHS failed to act (Yahoo News)
  • Trump among five targets as Jan. 6 panel weights criminal referrals (Bloomberg)
  • Texts show Raffensperger aide told White House to end call (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Meanwhile, prominent Arizona election deniers continue to fight their midterm losses with baseless lawsuits, and counties in Pennsylvania have been slammed with recount requests that have delayed the certification of the election. Some other stories about election denial:

  • Feds asked to investigate multistate ‘plot’ to copy election software (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • State officials warn they ‘will not permit disruptive behavior’ from challengers at recounts (Michigan Advance)
  • A New York gala draws incoming GOP lawmakers, and extremists (New York Times)
  • Tech firms are giving money to election deniers again (Bloomberg)
  • Wolf administration seeks to finish off the Pa. Senate GOP’s languishing 2020 election inquiry (VoteBeat)
  • Inside the secret $32M effort to stop ‘Stop the Steal’ (Politico)

On the Records

Jeffrey Rosen’s Calendars

We obtained former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s calendars from the transition period, during the time when former President Donald Trump and his allies were pressuring the Justice Department to help overturn the election. 

  • The calendars include meetings with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Jeffrey Clark, the former DOJ official who plotted with Trump to oust Rosen and take his place as attorney general so he could abet Trump’s schemes. 
  • Read the calendars here and explore more records we’ve obtained related to Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election here.
Family Separation

We’ve updated our extensive and detailed timeline of public records related to the Trump administration’s family separation policy with a number of documents we’ve obtained in recent months.

  • Among the records are emails that provide further evidence of the lack of adequate planning with regard to reuniting children with family members. 
  • The emails highlight examples of problems with data collection and detention capacity stemming from the “zero tolerance” initiative announced in May 2018. Read more here.

Other Stories We’re Following

National News
  • A fast-growing network of conservative groups is fueling a surge in book bans (New York Times)
  • Cause of death: Washington faltered as fentanyl gripped America (Washington Post)
  • Antiabortion movement seeks to jail people for ‘trafficking’ illegal pills (Washington Post)
  • Transgender Americans feel under attack as political vitriol rises (New York Times)
  • Biden signs historic bill codifying same-sex and interracial marriage (Politico)
In the States
  • Oklahoma takes ‘momentous’ step to allow taxpayer-funded religious schools (Politico)
  • Richmond sheriff puts $1,385 price tag on Times-Dispatch request for routine payroll records (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
  • Georgia secretary of state calls for end to runoff elections (Washington Post)
  • GOP congressmen are copy-pasting letters of support from pipeline grants (HuffPost)
  • Florida leaders misrepresented research before ban on gender-affirming care (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Texas state court throws out lawsuit against doctor who violated abortion law (Texas Tribune)
  • Mississippi Gov. Reeves talked to Brett Favre about using state funds for volleyball facilities (Mississippi Free Press)
Voting rights 
  • Ohio Senate backs voter ID, host of other election changes (Associated Press)
  • The election is over. The fight over voting rules and gerrymanders isn’t. (New York Times)
  • Texas Republicans propose a Florida-style election police force as it tees up more changes to voting laws (NBC News)
  • Oath Keepers watched Maricopa County drop boxes, despite claims to the contrary (Arizona Mirror)
  • How the end of Title 42 affects migration at the U.S.-Mexico border (Quartz
  • U.S. considers expanding asylum program for Venezuelans to include Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans (Wall Street Journal
  • Feds sue against Arizona over border wall made of shipping containers (NBC News)
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s Border Strike Force isn’t what he claimed, data shows (Arizona Republic)
The Coronavirus
  • U.S. will offer free at-home Covid tests as part of winter plan (New York Times)
  • Two decades after 9/11 inquiry, a similar plan for Covid stalls in Congress (New York Times)
  • DeSantis forms panel to counter CDC, a move decried by health professionals (Washington Post)
  • Congress clears military bill repealing vaccine mandate for troops (New York Times)
Trump and Trump Administration Accountability
  • House committee asks National Archives to review Trump storage unit (Washington Post)
  • Trump Organization was held in contempt after secret trial last year (New York Times)
  • Special Counsel Smith speeds ahead on criminal probes surrounding Trump (CNN)
  • A moment of truth is fast approaching for both Trump and the DOJ (CNN)