Victoria Advocate reporter Jessica Priest was honored Wednesday by a statewide journalism organization that recognizes high-impact reporting and writing that holds government officials accountable.
Priest was among the recipients of the Showcase Silver Award winners from the Austin-based Headliners Foundation of Texas for her investigative report, ”Port Politics.” The report produced almost three dozen news stories about former Congressman Blake Farenthold’s hiring as a legislative liaison at the Calhoun Port Authority, according to a news release issued by the foundation.
The Advocate’s reporting documents conflicts of interest among former port chairman Randy Boyd and the port board as well as inappropriate spending of taxpayer funds. A lawsuit filed under the Texas Open Meetings Act by the Advocate challenged Farenthold’s hiring by the elected members of the authority due to lack of advance notice to the public.
Farenthold has since resigned his position.
Priest, 30, has been a reporter with the Advocate since 2012.
The Showcase Awards for Enterprise and Innovation in Journalism program is the only statewide competition for Texas-based news media that judges entries across all platforms – digital, broadcast, magazine, and newspaper – on their significant impact on government, public policy or the conduct of a business, nonprofit or other organization.
“Texas is fortunate to have journalism organizations that continue to make substantial commitment to go beyond the news of the day and provide coverage that protects lives and keep our officials accountable,” said Foundation board member John Lumpkin, noting this year’s winners are examples.
Priest and other winners will be honored in September at a luncheon in Austin.