Morgan Smith Reporter

Morgan Smith reports on politics and education for the Tribune, which she joined in November 2009. She writes about the effects of the state budget, school finance reform, accountability and testing in Texas public schools. Her political coverage has included congressional and legislative races, as well as Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign, which she followed to Iowa and New Hampshire. In 2013, she received a National Education Writers Association award for "Death of a District," a series on school closures. After earning a bachelor's degree in English from Wellesley College, she moved to Austin in 2008 to enter law school at the University of Texas. A San Antonio native, her work has also appeared in Slate, where she spent a year as an editorial intern in Washington D.C.

Recent Contributions

PAC Mobilizes to Defend Vaccine Exemptions in Texas

Nicholas Nunez, 4, sits with his mother, Elizabeth Trejo, while he receives his shots at the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County in Fort Worth on August 30, 2013.
Nicholas Nunez, 4, sits with his mother, Elizabeth Trejo, while he receives his shots at the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County in Fort Worth on August 30, 2013.

A new political action committee has made its mission to guard parents’ rights to opt out of immunization requirements — whether that means targeting legislators who seek to close non-medical exemptions or pushing for policies that otherwise protect parents who choose not to vaccinate.

Grand Jury Halts Paxton Land Sale Investigation

Texas Attorney Gen.  Ken Paxton, speaks at The Texas Response: Pastors, Marriage & Religious Freedom event at the First Baptist Church in Pflugerville, Texas on September 29, 2015
Texas Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton, speaks at The Texas Response: Pastors, Marriage & Religious Freedom event at the First Baptist Church in Pflugerville, Texas on September 29, 2015

A Collin County grand jury looking into a 2004 land sale tied to a business group involving Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has decided to drop its investigation, a lawyer for the McKinney Republican said Wednesday.

Judge Throws Out Attempt To Cap Paxton Prosecutors Fees

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is shown at a news conference in Austin on Jan. 13, 2016, to announce a new unit of the attorney general’s office dedicated to combating human trafficking.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is shown at a news conference in Austin on Jan. 13, 2016, to announce a new unit of the attorney general’s office dedicated to combating human trafficking.

A Collin County court tossed out an attempt to stop payments to the special prosecutors appointed to pursue the financial fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Thursday. 

How Is Ken Paxton Paying For His Criminal Defense?

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at a press conference in Austin on Jan. 13, 2016.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at a press conference in Austin on Jan. 13, 2016.

How Ken Paxton is paying for his high-octane legal defense team is one of the ongoing puzzles in the criminal case against the Texas attorney general. Paxton has said he is not using public money or government funds, but that leaves more questions than answers.

Texas Sheriffs, Jails on Immigration Front Line

The badge of Captain Jaime Magaña in Webb County Jail in Laredo, TX, on Nov. 5, 2015. Photo by Martin do Nascimento
The badge of Captain Jaime Magaña in Webb County Jail in Laredo, TX, on Nov. 5, 2015. Photo by Martin do Nascimento

The federal government stands poised to deport immigrants who commit serious crimes in the United States — provided someone else catches them first. The success of federal efforts to detain criminal immigrants depends largely on local sheriffs.