Showdown With The Sacred Cow
A Monday hearing in the Rodeo records case could bring an end to our bullfight with Houston’s sacred cow.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has been engaged in a legal battle with Dolcefino Consulting over the public right to know for more than a year.
What began as an investigation into how the Rodeo deals with sexual assaults evolved over time into a look at how much money the concert business and charity actually donates to the children.
HLSR has hidden records about their foreign investments, their operating agreement with Reliant/NRG Stadium, salaries of their high paid executives, documents showing how much the Rodeo spends on furniture and travel, purchases of services or materials from board members, the contracts with their concert performers, and much more from the public eye.
Last year, Dolcefino Consulting filed a criminal complaint with the Harris County District Attorney to hold them accountable for withholding public records.
Six weeks later, the Rodeo sued us.
The only records the Rodeo has produced aside from their tax returns are boxes and boxes of useless paper–clearly an attempt to circumvent the spirit of the Nonprofit Act.
Both sides have files a motion for summary judgment asking the court to make a potentially precedent-setting final decision over access to the records.
“Monday’s hearing is fundamentally about one thing. Does the Rodeo have to play by the same rules as everyone else?” said Jeff Diamant, Dolcefino’s lawyer. “Allowing the Rodeo to prevail is simply making them above the law. It allows them to seek the protections of a nonprofit organization, operate as a for-profit company, and be accountable for none of it.”
After several delays, Judge Rabeea Collier in the 113th District Court in Harris County is now overseeing the case .
“We look forward to the judge reinforcing that the charity law means exactly what it has for the last 40 years,” said Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “In this state, when you get tax breaks, you have to share your financial records with the public whether you like it or not.”
The hearing Monday is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on the 10th floor of the Harris County Civil Courthouse.