Former State Sen. Don Adams, who has for decades pushed for transparency in government, will receive the 2015 James Madison Award presented by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
The award is given to individuals who demonstrate outstanding commitment to upholding the principles of the First Amendment and open government.
Adams will receive the honor on Sept. 17 during the foundation’s annual Bernard and Audre Rapoport State Conference in Austin. The State Bar of Texas’s 2015 Texas Gavel Awards, which honor journalism that deepens the understanding of the legal system, also will be awarded at the conference.
Adams, a municipal judge in Central Texas, served two terms in the state House of Representatives beginning in 1968, before he was elected to the state Senate. Adams served in the Senate through 1977 where he helped author and pass the first Texas Open Records Act. He later worked to modernize and reform the Legislature’s ethics requirements.
“Don Adams is a Founding Father of the people’s right to know in Texas,” Paul Watler, chairman of the FOI Foundation’s Madison Award committee, said in a statement. “Sen. Adams helped give birth to the Open Records Act. Don has championed open government ever since. He is a folksy and noble example of the virtue of a citizen-legislator.”
Over the years, Adams has volunteered his time to news industry associations and has provided unpaid legislative expertise to the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He was instrumental in the passage of several pieces of legislation relating to open government.
“The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is one of the most important advocates of transparency in government, and that makes this honor especially important to me,” Adams said in a statement.
The James Madison Award has been awarded to journalists, attorneys, elected officials, and vigilant citizens since 1987. Last year’s recipient was Texas Press Association executive Donnis Baggett, a veteran newsman.
Laura Prather, co-chair of the nonprofit FOI Foundation’s legislative committee, said in a statement: “Sen. Don Adams’s steadfast support of and tireless advocacy for open government and First Amendment rights has spanned four decades and three branches of government. I am thrilled to see him being recognized with the James Madison Award for his excellence and dedication in preserving these rights that are so critical to our democracy.”
For more information on FOIFT and its state conference visit www.foift.org.
More information on the Texas Gavel Awards, winner bios, and their stories will be available soon at texasbar.com/gavelawards.