Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Texas DPS Destroys Records

Throw them all in jail.

AUSTIN, Texas - (KRT) - One day before Democrats ended their boycott of the Texas House last week, the Texas Department of Public Safety ordered the destruction of all records and photos gathered in the search for them, documents obtained Tuesday show.

A one-sentence order sent by e-mail on the morning of May 14 was apparently carried out, a DPS spokesman said Tuesday. The revelation comes as federal authorities are investigating how a division of the federal Homeland Security Department was dragged into the hunt for the missing Democrats - at the request of the state police agency.

Addressed to "Captains," the order said: "Any notes, correspondence, photos, etc. that were obtained pursuant to the absconded House of Representative members shall be destroyed immediately. No copies are to be kept. Any questions please contact me."

It was signed by the commander of the DPS Special Crimes Service, L.C. "Tony" Marshall.

The head of a state House panel looking into law enforcement's role in the search expressed outrage at the order, obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram under the Texas Open Records Act.

"That's unbelievable," said state Rep. Kevin Bailey, chairman of the House General Investigating Committee and one of the 51 Democrats who fled to Ardmore, Okla., during the walkout last week.