From Walker Sewell: Court Asked to Rehear Case Involving National Cutting Horse Association

What's The Big Secret?

Aug 22, 2011, 16:19 ET from Walker Sewell

DALLAS, Aug. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- For the past 8 years two members of the non-profit National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) have been fighting to obtain financial records they say state law requires be open to the public.  They have now filed a motion for rehearing in the Second Court of Appeals of Texas, Fort Worth after the court ruled the NCHA could bar them discussing the information with their fellow NCHA members because it was labeled "confidential."

"My clients limited their requests to the types of financial records that the general public is permitted to inspect and copy," said their attorney James W. Walker of the law firm of Walker Sewell.  "My clients are seeking to foster opportunities to participate in NCHA events by lowering the costs associated with that participation and making sure the membership dues and other monies received by the NCHA are being spent with the NCHA membership's best interests in mind."

NCHA's 2009 IRS 990 form shows the organization took in close to $25 million and posted a loss of more than $200,000.  "My client's requests are reasonable and supported by the law," said Walker. "Openness and transparency are vital to good governance and fair dealing and that is why the law makes these records public."

Among the information the NCHA labeled as confidential are records concerning tax dollars the organization receives through the City of Fort Worth. "These are public funds," notes Walker. "How they are expended is a matter of public interest and they are in no way confidential."  

"Despite clear legislative mandates that the financial records of a non-profit corporation shall be open to public inspection and copying, the court's recent judgment permits the NCHA to label the records as confidential," said Walker. "We are asking for a rehearing on the issue."

"Any organization that is interested in transparency in public affairs should be watching this case closely," said Walker.  "It could set a precedent that impedes the free flow of information that should be public."

Paula Gaughan *& Dean Sanders v. National Cutting Horse Association

Second Court of Appeals of Texas, Fort Worth  

SOURCE Walker Sewell