AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN’s investigation into the state’s spending along the border has been honored with the Texas Gavel Award (Major Metro) from the Texas State Bar.
The Texas Gavel Awards honor journalism that deepens public understanding of the legal system. The award was presented to the KXAN-TV team for their investigative reporting series, “Border Splurge: Texas’ Billion-Dollar Drug War,” which covered the state’s costly border security operations.
Last fall, the KXAN investigative news team launched the “Border Splurge: Texas’ Billion-Dollar Drug War,” project. Over a period of nine months, the KXAN team delivered exclusive reporting detailing how state lawmakers pumped $1.6 billion in taxpayer funds into a string of Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) operations, in large part, to prevent drug smugglers classified as “high threat criminals” in Mexico from entering the state.
After analyzing over 32,000 DPS trooper arrest records, the investigation concluded that despite a massive commitment of taxpayer dollars, only 6 percent of those arrested on the border over a two year period were apprehended for felony drug possession. The majority of arrests were for lesser crimes, such as driving while intoxicated.
“If it’s important and happening in our local community; viewers in Austin know that KXAN-TV will be there to bring local residents up-to-the-minute information and the best investigative news coverage,” stated Chad Cross, News Director of KXAN-TV. “This prestigious Texas Gavel Award for our investigative series ‘Border Splurge: Texas’ Billion-Dollar Drug War’ is a testament to KXAN’s commitment to addressing the information needs of local Austin viewers. We are extraordinarily proud of the excellent work of Josh Hinkle, David Barer, Brian Collister, Ben Friberg and Joe Ellis of the KXAN investigative team.”
Eric Lassberg, VP and General Manager of KXAN-TV added, “Our local news programming is an important public service we provide to the local community and our ability to deliver essential, accurate and timely information to keep our local viewers safe and informed is a point of excellence and pride for KXAN-TV and Nexstar. We applaud our passionate local news team on this acknowledgement of their outstanding journalistic contributions in covering the Border Splurge story and thank the Texas State Bar for this tremendous honor.”