Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, has lost her first attempt to obtain records from the foundation that supports the state’s troubled cancer agency.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg has ruled that the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Foundation is not a governmental body and is not subject to the state public information act.
However, Davis hasn’t given up. She filed Senate Bill 895 designating the foundation a governmental body that is subject to the state law.
The foundation has been swept up in the controversy surrounding the state agency that mismanaged three of its largest grants, totaling $56 million, and remains under criminal investigation. The foundation was created to raise money to supplement the salaries of the agency’s top executives, who have since resigned in the wake of the controversy.
Initially the foundation refused for months to disclose its donors until the information was requested by the Legislature. But Davis also has sought more financial details and communications between the agency and the foundation.
She filed a civil complaint with the district attorney, hoping the prosecutor could force the foundation to turn over its records before the Legislature finishes writing legislation to restructure the agency and the foundation.
Although the Legislature authorized the creation of the foundation, its officials argue that it is not a governmental agency because it takes no public money and is solely supported by private grants and donations.
Marc Palazzo, a foundation spokesman, praised the district attorney’s decision and said the foundation is attempting to work with Davis.
“In an effort to be as transparent and cooperative as possible, we have provided Senator Davis with an extensive amount of information associated with the operations of the foundation,” he said. “Additionally, we have requested a meeting with her to answer any other questions she may have. Unfortunately she has not accepted our offer as of yet.”
Davis’ staff said the foundation still hasn’t turned over the requested correspondence or financial details.