When does a public information request veer into harassment, intimidation and "bullying" of an elected official? If you're Houston City Councilman Michael Kubosh, it's when people demand to see any emails you might've traded with the gaggle of homophobic, hard-right conservative Christians that clamored for the death of a non-discrimination ordinance you voted against at City Hall.
Last Thursday a D.C.-based nonprofit called the Campaign for Accountability filed a records request seeking all communication between the local religious leaders and anti-LGBT groups opposed to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and the six city council members, including Kubosh, who voted against the ordinance at council last year. While council members voted 11-6 in favor of the law, anti-HERO activists launched a legal battle that ultimately put HERO on the ballot and up for a public vote.
By repeating the lie that transgender rights would make Houston's public restrooms a dangerous place for women and children, anti-HERO architect Jared Woodfill won the day with his mantra “no men in women's restrooms” (unless they happen to be his client, that is). A clear majority of Houston voters killed the law.
Now the Campaign for Accountability, a self-described “nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life,” wants to know what Woodfill and others were saying to city leaders opposed to the law. Their request seeks communications since January 2014 between the six HERO-opposed council members and a laundry list of prominent anti-HERO activists, among them Woodfill and Steve "Birth Control Pills Make Women Less Attractive" Hotze.
“This is our 'lump of Coal' for Christmas,” Kubosh groused in a Facebook post. As the Houston Chronicle reports, Kubosh and fellow councilman Dave Martin, who also voted against HERO, held a press conference outside City Hall Tuesday to condemn the records request. Kubosh, who called the request “a type of bullying,” even accused Mayor Annise Parker, who championed the non-discrimination law, of being behind the request for records. (Parker spokeswoman Janice Evans called the allegation “totally unsubstantiated” and said such records requests are simply “part of being an elected officeholder,” according to the Chron.)
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In a prepared statement, the Campaign for Accountability called it “ludicrous” for an elected official to equate a request for public records with intimidation and harassment. From the group's statement:
“Further, the release of these records regarding a matter of immense public interest will increase public understanding and awareness of the behind-the-scenes efforts to oppose the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). It is a hallmark of a democratic society that elected officials are held accountable for their actions. If Councilmen Kubosh and Martin find that principle objectionable, they should consider a new line of work."
See the full request the Campaign for Accountability filed below: