Jay Root — Click for higher resolution staff photos

Jay Root is an award-winning journalist who has covered politics, immigration, natural disasters and live music — not necessarily in that order. For a dozen years Root was Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where he chronicled the rise of then-Gov. George W. Bush, wrote about cartel violence in Mexico and covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. During a three-year stint at the Associated Press, Root was twice named AP Staff Reporter of the Year for his watchdog reporting, including a story that sparked felony charges against a sitting state representative. Since 2011, Root has been a senior political and investigative reporter at the Texas Tribune, where he covered the dramatic collapse of Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign and went on to write an ebook about it called “Oops! A Diary from the 2012 Campaign Trail.” Root also broke the story that put the Texas attorney general on the path toward criminal indictment, co-wrote an exposé that brought an end to privately funded prosecutions in Travis County, and authored a series of watchdog articles that prompted a wave of firings and resignations at two major state agencies. In 2017, Root co-directed Beyond The Wall, a film exploring border politics in the age of Trump, which won a national Edward R. Murrow award for best news documentary. Root’s latest film, Border Hustle, was released in early 2019 and reveals how desperate migrants have become cash cows on both sides of the border.

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 Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

New Mexico official says Texas landowners are “stealing” millions of gallons of water and selling it back for fracking

Water restrictions in New Mexico have created a supply crunch for the fracking industry, so more free-flowing Texas water is helping to fill the void. But not without controversy: A top New Mexico politician says Texans are pumping his state's water and piping it across the state line for oil drillers.

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 Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

Lawmakers weigh changing Texas law that lets rent-to-own stores file criminal charges on customers

The chairman of the House Business & Industry Committee said he was "stunned" to learn there is an obscure law that makes it easy for rent-to-own companies to file criminal charges against customers who fall behind on payments. The committee is looking at changing the law after a joint investigation by The Texas Tribune and NerdWallet.

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 Bob Daemmrich: Geren/Marjorie Kamys Cotera: Sullivan/French: campaign website

Court dismisses Empower Texans' lawsuit

Empower Texans was not able to demonstrate a credible fear of prosecution stemming from tactics it used in a closely watched Texas House race, a federal judge ruled Friday.

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 Bob Daemmrich: Geren/Marjorie Kamys Cotera: Sullivan/French: campaign website

Prosecutors reviewing complaint against Empower Texans over attack ad resembling government notice

Legit advertisement or dirty campaign trick? That's the question for Travis County prosecutors who are reviewing a criminal complaint against the influential conservative group Empower Texans. At issue: A mailer that looks like an official government notice targeting their top bête noire, state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth.

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 Illustration by Todd Wiseman / Antony Vance Clicks

Texas Republicans getting almost 90 percent of money flowing into state elections

Donors pumped a total of $67 million into state-level campaigns from the beginning of 2017 through Jan. 25, and a whopping $57 million of it, or about 86 percent, went to GOP candidates, according to a Texas Tribune analysis. Gov. Greg Abbott got nearly a third of all the political money raised since the start of last year.

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