The Brief: Abbott Reverses Himself on Execution Drugs Secrecy

Attorney General Greg Abbott declares victory in the Republican primary on March 4, 2014 in San Antonio.
Attorney General Greg Abbott declares victory in the Republican primary on March 4, 2014 in San Antonio.

The Big Conversation

Attorney General Greg Abbott reversed himself Thursday on whether the Texas prison system can withhold information about companies that make drugs used by the state in executions. In doing so, Abbott was swayed by a DPS assessment that found threats made against a Houston-area compounding pharmacy "should be taken seriously."

The Tribune's Terri Langford wrote: "The ruling allowing secrecy is noteworthy because it was made in the midst of Abbott's campaign for Texas governor against Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and because in three prior rulings, Abbott has ruled for transparency when it comes to execution information."

Information on the execution drugs is being sought in connection with challenges to the constitutionality of this method of execution. The issue has only gained momentum following the botched execution in Oklahoma that drew national scrutiny. Prison officials, wrote the Austin American-Statesman's Chuck Lindell, wanted to guard the identity of the drug manufacturers so they wouldn't be subjected to pressure to discontinue supplying the drugs to the state.

Langford reported that "McCraw declined to say how many threats had been made to pharmacies, how many were investigated or whether they were credible. ... McCraw's statement and letter seems to contradict an Associated Press report last April which found scant evidence of threats to Texas pharmacies. The AP reported then that spokesmen for the TDCJ and Abbott's office would not answer questions about whether they were investigating any threats..."

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Must-Read

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Quote to Note

"They’re here, and the vast majority are productive ... At some point the political process, the legislative process, needs to recognize that and deal with it."

— U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, on the need for immigration reform that eventually allows for legalization and a path to citizenship for children brought to the country illegally

Today in TribTalk

To grow our economy, democratize it, by Bo Delp: "What goes unsaid is that the environment for working families in Texas is decidedly unfriendly. Texas lawmakers should incentivize more worker control over a company’s assets through cooperative ownership."

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin. Tickets are on sale now.