Jay Root Reporter

Jay Root is a native of Liberty. He never knew any reporters growing up, and he has never taken a journalism class in his life. But somehow he got hooked on the news business. It all started when Root walked into the offices of The Daily Texan, his college newspaper, during his last year at the University of Texas in 1987. He couldn't resist the draw: it was the biggest collection of misfits ever assembled. After graduating, he took a job at a Houston chemical company and soon realized it wasn't for him. Root applied for an unpaid internship at the Houston Post in 1990, and it turned into a full-time job that same year. He has been a reporter ever since. Root has covered natural disasters, live music and Texas politics — not necessarily in that order. He was Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a dozen years, most of them good. He also covered politics and the Legislature for The Associated Press before joining the staff of the Tribune.Root is the author of “Oops! A Diary From The 2012 Campaign Trail,” an insider’s account of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s dramatic collapse in the 2012 presidential race. The book was released in September, 2012.

Recent Contributions

Abbott Opposes Curbs on Dark Money

Gov. Greg Abbott signs HB4, which adds funding for pre-K, into law at the Anita Uphaus Early Childhood Center in Austin Texas May 28, 2015.
Gov. Greg Abbott signs HB4, which adds funding for pre-K, into law at the Anita Uphaus Early Childhood Center in Austin Texas May 28, 2015.

Republicans went to war with one another over the idea of disclosing dark money. But they probably needn't bother. Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters Monday that he thinks the idea is unconstitutional. Proponents of shining a light on it disagree.

In Texas, a Collapse of Ethics Reform

Gov. Greg Abbott delivering his State of the State speech on Feb. 17, 2015.
Gov. Greg Abbott delivering his State of the State speech on Feb. 17, 2015.

When the gavel comes down on the legislative session on Monday, lawmakers will have failed to pass into law about two dozen different proposals aimed at curbing conflicts of interest and shining light into the dark corners of the Capitol.

Huffman Stands by Push for "Spousal Loophole"

State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, speaks during a Texas Tribune event on Jan. 12, 2015.
State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, speaks during a Texas Tribune event on Jan. 12, 2015.

State Sen. Joan Huffman is facing criticism after authoring a measure allowing elected officials and bureaucrats to disclose less information about their spouses' property and financial activity. She says the change was needed to clarify an “unclear” Texas Ethics Commission rule.

Major Ethics Overhaul is Declared Dead

State Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, at a Tribune event on Dec. 11, 2014.
State Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, at a Tribune event on Dec. 11, 2014.

With no collective will to expose "dark money" contributions in Texas, a major ethics overhaul died in the waning hours of the 2015 legislatives session. A few piecemeal changes are still possible before the final gavel comes down on the 84th Legislature Monday.

Ethics Reform: A Guide to What's Still Alive

State Rep. Sarah Davis, R-Houston, on the House floor on May 4, 2013.
State Rep. Sarah Davis, R-Houston, on the House floor on May 4, 2013.

Now that the massive overhaul contained in Senate Bill 19 has gone on life support, a few targeted efforts to shine the light on conflicts of interest and enhance transparency remain. Here's a guide to what's moving and what's not.

House Passes Ethics Bill; Senate Showdown Likely

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, registers a no vote on an amendment to his ethics bill SB19 on May 26, 2015.
State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, registers a no vote on an amendment to his ethics bill SB19 on May 26, 2015.

The Texas House on Wednesday gave final sign-off to a far-reaching ethics reform package that would shine light on so-called “dark money” while restricting undercover recordings of people in the state Capitol.  

After Day of Rules Warfare, Both Sides Claim Some Wins

House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel is handed another stack of bills during debate on S.B. 19 Tuesday evening May 26, 2015 in the Texas House.
House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel is handed another stack of bills during debate on S.B. 19 Tuesday evening May 26, 2015 in the Texas House.

A daylong parliamentary battle ensued Tuesday as the Texas House faced a crucial deadline to pass many major bills before they died. Democrats succeeded in killing an abortion bill, while Republicans managed to pass ethics reform legislation and a version of campus carry.