A crowd of about 175 gathered Thursday at the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas’ annual state conference and awards luncheon to honor legislators, advocates and award-winning journalists who push for transparency in government.

Former Sen. Don Adams received the James Madison Award for his legacy; writing and passing the first Texas Open Records Act and working throughout his career to modernize the legislature’s ethics requirements.

The day was filled with panels on topics such as ethics disclosures and accountability in the 2015 legislature.

Three Texas news organizations were announced as winners of Spirit of FOI Awards for investigations that made use of state and federal open records laws.

The Nancy Monson Spirit of FOI Award was given to The Dallas Morning News and NBC affiliate KXAS for a joint investigation titled, “Injured Heroes, Broken Promises.” The report involved a yearlong fight to obtain records of complaints soldiers made to U.S. Army leadership about mistreatment at three of the largest Warrior Transition Units.

The Temple Daily Telegram was honored for its reporting on a public official’s questionable election and police use of force against a teenager. The Galveston County Daily News received an honorable mention for a 21-month investigation into pay for executives in the University of Texas Medical Branch.

The State Bar of Texas also distributed its 2015 Gavel Awards at the John Henry Faulk Awards luncheon.

Winners are Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle; Jessica Priest of the Victoria Advocate; Sally Hernandez, Josh Hinkle, and Mark Batchelder of KXAN-TV; Lorne Matalon of Marfa Public Radio; and Jordan Smith and Liliana Segura of The Intercept. Read more about their winning pieces here.


Winners of the 2015 Gavel Awards are seen here with State Bar of Texas President Allan K. DuBois and Rudy England, chair of the SBOT’s Public Affairs Committee. From left: Jessica Priest, Liliana Segura, Jordan Smith, Rudy England, Mark Batchelder, Sally Hernandez, Josh Hinkle, Allan K. DuBois, and Lisa Falkenberg.