CORPUS CHRISTI - Texas Press Association joined the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce last month in honoring state Rep. Todd Hunter for his passion for the First Amendment and his commitment to open government.
The three organizations hosted a July 16 luncheon for Hunter at the Town Club, overlooking Corpus Christi Bay, to thank him for his service to his district and to Texas.
Jim Moser, chair of TPA's Legislative Advisory Committee, told the audience that Hunter has "almost single-handedly changed the First Amendment landscape in Texas for the better."
"He is a strong advocate for government transparency and accountability in all forms, as well as for recognizing the seminal role that a free press plays in this process," said Moser, president of Moser Community Media.
Moser cited Hunter's work four years ago on a landmark bill affirming reporters' rights to protect confidential sources. He also touted Hunter's work on the anti-SLAPP law protecting free speech rights of individuals who speak out against powerful institutions or individuals, as well as his passage of a uniform corrections statute and a law stating that officials' electronic messages about public business are public record, regardless of whether they're on a privately owned device or a government computer.
"Because of his long record of being on the right side of government accountability and free speech issues, in February the Texas Press Association proudly presented him our Friend of the First Amendment award. It was a privilege to do so then, and it is a privilege to come to his hometown today to honor him," Moser said.
Hunter said he learned to appreciate free speech at the knee of his father, who was a writer in Oklahoma. He said he considered it a privilege and a duty to fight for First Amendment causes in the Texas Legislature.
"It's an honor to receive this award for promoting freedom of speech and the First Amendment in Texas," he said. "What matters is the respect I have for what journalists do, not that we see eye to eye."
Corpus Christi Caller-Times publisher Darrell Coleman was master of ceremonies at the event. Also representing TPA were members Tom Stephenson, publisher of the Houston Chronicle; Fred Hartman, vice president of Hartman Newspapers; Dan Easton, publisher of the Victoria Advocate; and Donnis Baggett, executive vice president of TPA.