(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced a victory today in the District Court of Texas for Travis County where it filed a petition on behalf of its client Zachor Legal Institute under the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA), seeking information about potential influence by the Qatar government’s funding of certain Texas A&M University programs and a Texas A&M campus in Education City, Al Rayyan, Qatar (Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development v. Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General (No. D-1-GN-18-006240)).
Zachor Legal Institute is a U.S.-based advocacy group dedicated to combatting the spread of anti-Semitism. Zachor made requests under the TPIA for information about the funding or donations made to Texas A&M by the government of Qatar and agencies and subdivisions of the government of Qatar. Qatar controversially has aligned itself with Islamic terrorists and extremists which has placed it at odds with the United States, Israel and other U.S. allies in the Middle East.
Zachor’s initially pursued information related to the funding of the Texas A&M campus in Qatar in 2018. Zachor’s sought to determine how Texas A&M was able to establish a degree-conferring campus in Qatar without the Texas Legislature’s permission or involvement.
In 2018, Qatar filed a lawsuit to prevent disclosure of its funding information. Judicial Watch countered with the argument that neither the Qatari government nor any of its agencies are protected by exceptions under Texas law and that federal law “expressly makes the requested information public.”
Texas A&M claimed making the records public would reveal confidential donor information. Judicial Watch countered this argument by pointing out the law only protects private donors, not donations from a foreign government body, specifically the Qatar Foundation. The Qatar Foundation “was created by the Emir of Qatar, is Chaired by his consort, and is sponsored and supported by the government of Qatar, a monarchy. At no point did the Qatar Foundation demonstrate that it is not an agency or subdivision of the government of Qatar.”
After reviewing the briefing, the arguments, and the evidence, including the documents submitted by the Qatar Foundation, Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled in favor of Judicial Watch and the Zachor Legal Institute and ordered that the documents be made public.
“The court was right to reject the arguments of Qatar that sought to hide information about the foreign government’s funding of Texas A& M,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This case has been a multi-year court battle against a foreign government entity tied to Islamist terrorism – so this latest victory is sweet.”
“Zachor Legal Institute is grateful for the incredible support and skill of the entire Judicial Watch team,” said Marc Greendorfer, President of Zachor Legal Institute. “We now look forward to receiving the records that Qatar has spent the last four-plus years blocking from public review. While Qatari agents have a history of refusing to comply with lawful orders in the United States, such as Al Jazeera’s continuing refusal to comply with the Department of Justice’s 2020 order to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, we will not stop our inquiries into what Qatar is doing in the United States. We hope that Qatar will end its interference with American institutions now that Judicial Watch has once again compelled transparency in government.”
Judicial Watch was assisted in this case by Jennifer S. Riggs of Riggs & Ray, P.C. in Austin, Texas.