Texas AG Ken Paxton Sues San Antonio Over Chick-Fil-A Ban

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Molly Prince Politics Reporter
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a petition Monday suing San Antonio to obtain records after the city council banned Chick-fil-A from the San Antonio International Airport.

“The City of San Antonio claims that it can hide documents because it anticipates being sued,” Paxton said in a statement. “But we’ve simply opened an investigation using the Public Information Act.”

“If a mere investigation is enough to excuse the City of San Antonio from its obligation to be transparent with the people of Texas, then the Public Information Act is a dead letter,” he continued. “The city’s extreme position only highlights its fear about allowing any sunshine on the religious bigotry that animated its decision.”

Paxton revealed March 28 the Office of the Attorney General would be launching an investigation into whether the San Antonio City Council violates state law by prohibiting the fast food chain from leasing space in the airport. (RELATED: Chip Roy Writes An Open Letter To San Antonio City Council After Chick-Fil-A Ban)

The city council passed a motion March 21 to approve the Food, Beverage and Retail Prime Concession Agreement with Paradies Lagardère for the airport with the condition that Chick-fil-A be excluded from the agreement.

“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” Councilman Roberto Treviño said in a March statement. “Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton walks to a news conference outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill (Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton walks to a news conference outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill (Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)

The prohibition came after a report noted that in 2017, Chick-fil-A donated nearly $2 million to the Salvation Army, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Paul Anderson Youth Home. The report asserted the three charities were discriminatory against LGBTQ individuals.

“The city is a political subdivision of the state and must abide by state law, including the Texas Public Information Act,” Marc Rylander, Director of Communications in the state’s Attorney General’s office told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “That law protects Texans’ right to know how government officials are conducting business on their behalf, so we are disappointed the city openly refuses to be transparent about this matter.”

Paxton also wrote a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao urging for a federal probe to be opened. Days later, the Transportation Department announced that after receiving complaints “alleging discrimination by two airport operators against a private company due to the expression of the owner’s religious beliefs” the FAA’s Office of Civil Rights will investigate both the San Antonio International Airport (SAT) and Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF).

The Department of Transportation’s investigation is ongoing.

The City of San Antonio released a statement in response to Paxton’s lawsuit, contending it had simply followed the law.

“Under the Texas Public Information Act, the City had requested a ruling from the Open Records Division of the AG — a routine request made to the AG’s office daily — as to whether documents related to the Council’s decision on the airport concessions contract were releasable, given that the Attorney General had already announced an investigation,” the statement read. “The City provided nearly 250 pages of documents for review by the Open Records Division and is still waiting for a decision.”

“The Texas Attorney General should allow the Open Records Division to issue a ruling on the City’s request,” the statement continued. “The City will comply with any ruling from the Open Records Division.”

“Instead of allowing the routine process take its course, the AG decided to sue and not wait for a decision from his own department,” City Attorney Andy Segovia added. “The Attorney General notified the press before any communication with the City, or even before the City was served with the suit.”

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