Texas state police destroyed records of their hunt for House members who fled Austin last week, characterizing that action as routine and prompting Democratic charges of a cover-up, the Dallas Morning News reports.
The state Department of Public Safety said the records destruction was required under a federal rule prohibiting police from retaining any intelligence gathered on individuals who are not suspected of criminal activity. But the rule addresses not what police can keep in their own files, but what information can be kept by law enforcement in databases shared between police agencies and funded by the U.S. Justice Department. “It doesn’t talk about destroying records,” said Justice Department spokesman Jorge Martinez.
More than 50 Democratic legislators left the state before the scheduled May 12 redistricting debate and stayed at in Ardmore, Okla. They prevented a quorum, not returning until after the May 15 deadline for passage of House bills.
Democrats said the records were key evidence in the federal Homeland Security Department’s inquiry into the potential misuse by Texas of federal security and law enforcement assets.