You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Statesman fights subpoena from Texas Windstorm Insurance Association

A lawyer for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association has subpoenaed records from the American-Statesman and two other media outlets to obtain notes, emails and other information gathered by reporters. The Statesman will fight releasing the information.

Houston lawyer Andrew McKinney, who is representing the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, wants information from the outlets — the others are Texas Public Radio in San Antonio and KRGV-TV in Weslaco — for a case in which the association is being sued by the Brownsville Independent School District over unpaid claims from Hurricane Dolly in 2008. TWIA is the quasi-governmental insurer of last resort for businesses, governmental entities and individuals in coastal Texas.

Through the Dec. 20 subpoena, McKinney is seeking the results of news gathering from stories about racist emails to and from top officials at TWIA. The lawyer for the Brownsville school district, Steve Mostyn, has charged that racism was a factor when TWIA officials denied claims made by the 98-percent Hispanic school district.

TWIA also is seeking to compel the media outlets to appear at depositions on written questions.

McKinney said he would not comment on pending litigation, and a spokeswoman for TWIA didn’t return calls.

Lawyers for the Statesman said in a motion to quash TWIA’s subpoena that the information sought by the association is privileged. The lawyers will argue that the 2010 “Texas shield law,” which is supposed to encourage whistle-blowers to reveal corruption to journalists, applies in this case and was put in place to protect journalists from being forced to turn over notes and other information compiled as part of news gathering.

Statesman Editor Debbie Hiott said turning over notes and story drafts “could have a chilling effect on the ability of a free press to gather the news.”

“When the Legislature passed the Texas shield law, they did it to avoid just this sort of thing,” Hiott said in a statement. “This subpoena isn’t even trying to answer a specific question. It’s a big fishing expedition to find out what we might have that’s relevant, needlessly dragging the press into a civil dispute between two parties.”

It was not immediately clear if Texas Public Radio or KRGV would join the Statesman in fighting the subpoenas.

Separately, Mostyn filed his own motion recently to block McKinney’s request.

“It appears to me to be just an attempt to harass and intimidate by a quasi-state agency,” Mostyn said.

A judge in Cameron County is expected to make a decision on McKinney’s request next week, Mostyn said.

The bigoted emails by TWIA officials were first reported in December by the Statesman. Some of the emails contained offensive, racist terms for minorities. Others were rants and jokes received by and forwarded to TWIA officials that disparaged undocumented immigrants, Arabs and African-Americans.

After news reports, Rep. John Smithee, a Republican from Amarillo and chairman of the House’s insurance committee, called for an investigation into TWIA and the emails, which he called disturbing and inappropriate. State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, called on the Texas Department of Insurance, which has administrative oversight of TWIA, to conduct a special inquiry.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

BREAKING: Search crews looking for missing swimmer in McKinney Falls Park now in recovery mode, EMS says
BREAKING: Search crews looking for missing swimmer in McKinney Falls Park now in recovery mode, EMS says

Search crews looking for a male swimmer that was reported missing at McKinney Falls Park on Friday evening have ceased rescue operations and are now in recovery mode, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. Emergency responders received a call about 6:30 p.m. from the 5800 block of McKinney Falls Parkway, officials said. One of the swimmer’s...
Dallas officer charged with assault in shooting death of woman
Dallas officer charged with assault in shooting death of woman

A grand jury has recommended an aggravated assault charge against a Dallas police officer who shot and killed a pregnant woman in a January confrontation involving a stolen car. The Dallas County district attorney announced Friday that Christopher Hess was indicted on a charge of aggravated assault. The charge is related to the January shooting death...
Officials ID woman who died trapped under vehicle in Jonestown

JONESTOWN Woman who died trapped under vehicle ID’d The Travis County sheriff’s office has identified the woman who died trapped under a vehicle in Jonestown on Thursday evening as 62-year-old Denise Lynn Coonrod, of Jonestown. Authorities responded at about 7 p.m. to a call from the 10000 block of Deer Canyon Drive, officials said. &ldquo...
Businesses fear more fallout may follow California travel ban to Texas
Businesses fear more fallout may follow California travel ban to Texas

California’s decision to ban its state employees from traveling to Texas on their taxpayers’ dime after Texas lawmakers passed new limits on gay parents adopting and fostering children set off a new round of recriminations Friday between the nation’s two largest states. But with the usual exchange of barbs came a new set of warnings...
GREG KELLEY CASE: Rangers’ report finds ‘previously undetected’ crimes

A Texas Rangers report looking into new allegations in the case involving Greg Kelley, who was convicted in the sexual assault of a 4-year-old boy in 2014, is soon to be finalized and hints at a finding of newly discovered criminal activity, Williamson County court documents show. However, the document will not be immediately released to the public...
More Stories