Atty Gen. Ken Paxton
State Attorney General Ken Paxton waves during the 2018 Texas Republican Convention at the Henry B. González Convention Center. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

After months of investigations, lawsuits, and negotiations, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday announced an agreement with the City of San Antonio over its decision to exclude fast food franchise Chick-fil-A from a lucrative concessions contract at the San Antonio International Airport.

According to a news release, under the agreement, the City of San Antonio will provide Paxton with “documents pertaining to the City’s communications, meetings, and records related to the exclusion of Chick-fil-A.”

After three business days, the City may be asked to provide further documents, or the office of the attorney general will file notice to dismiss an open records lawsuit. 

City Attorney Andy Segovia said, “Today, the Texas Attorney General finally agreed to drop their writ of mandamus lawsuit.” He said the Office of the Attorney General’s Open Records Division ruled the City should release documents in mid-July, and the City agreed to do so.

“I look forward to reviewing the City of San Antonio’s records surrounding this discriminatory decision,” Paxton said in the news release.

Paxton has framed the decision as a violation of “religious liberty” and of constitutional law. In a March 28 letter to Mayor Ron Nirenberg and San Antonio City Council, Paxton wrote, “The Constitution’s protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil-A’s chicken. Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport.”

The controversial Council decision on Chick-fil-A, driven by the company’s anti-LGBTQIA+ agenda and led by Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), pitted City Council members against each other and became an issue in May elections for several Council seats and the mayor’s office.

After the 6-4 Council exclusion vote in March, Treviño characterized the decision to exclude Chick-fil-A as a matter of “equality and inclusion.” In a March 21 statement he said, “With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior. Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”

Paxton counters citing federal law, constitutional protections, and a Texas law passed in July that “prohibits the government from discriminating against anyone who donates to, affiliates with, or supports a religious organization.”

According to the agreement, Paxton has five business days after the City provides all requested documents to either file to dismiss the open records lawsuit or proceed with further court action.

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Nicholas Frank

Senior Reporter Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with...