Border Sheriffs Redact Documents Liberally

A couple months ago, I requested from the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition copies of all the invoices they received from BlueServo, the company that operates the Texas Border Watch camera program.

Because the Coalition is funded by public money and comprised of public officials — elected border county sheriffs — the Texas attorney general's office has ruled that the group is subject to the Texas Public Information Act.

It took a couple tries, but, eventually, I got all the invoices.

So, I culled through them to try to figure out how all the money was spent. My analysis is represented in the graphic.

But the Coalition made that a bigger challenge then you might imagine.

The TPIA allows agencies to redact information for security and privacy reasons. The Coalition decided to redact just about everything they possibly could on the invoices they sent me. They blacked out the names of vendors that provided equipment, the vendors' addresses, even the types of products that were purchased. The only way I was able to decipher how the money was spent was by looking at general itemizations BlueServo provided, because most of the actual invoices were useless.

And, the group provided no accounting of how the initial startup grant money — $625,000 — was spent. That's more than a quarter of the $2 million spent on the project in the first year.

I'm attaching here a few of the invoices, so you can see for yourself how redact-happy the Coalition was. Also, a heads-up, we're working on a document repository so we can post more documents like these and make them easy for you to peruse.

 

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