Newsmonger: Lackland AFB alleged sex scandal victims climbs to 38, Adoption Services Associates investigated by the AG, Frack-study author takes industry money
Published: August 1, 2012
In an affidavit filed in a Bexar County court, one New York couple said they first contacted ASA in November 2010. The family eventually paid $13,600 in administrative fees to become a prospective family with the agency. Just three weeks later, the couple learned the New York State Office of Children and Family Services ASA was no longer authorized to do business in the state for failing to file paperwork for several years. ASA asked the couple for an additional $21,400 less than a month before McMahon sent out an April 5 email to clients saying the business would close, citing "economic concerns."
Another court document mentions a Virginia couple who paid ASA more than $26,000. When an adoption scheduled for January 2012 failed after the birth mother backed out, the family spoke to an ASA social worker who agreed to help them find another child. Two weeks later, McMahon sent out the email announcing ASA's closure.
On July 10, well after court records show the AG's office had already begun taking sworn affidavits from ASA clients in the case against the agency, Zulfacht urged former ASA clients to donate money to "help us repay these people who were so harmed by our closing." In the same Facebook post, she blamed the agency's closure on a litany of problems, including the "economy, the competition, the 'morning after pills,' the acceptance of unwed mothers," and "improved infertility treatments."
Frack-study author takes industry money
When UT professor Charles "Chip" Groat and his team presented preliminary findings of their independent report on fracking last November — stating that the process of shooting chemically charged water deep underground to break up oil and gas rich shale (like South Texas' own Eagle Ford), isn't directly linked to groundwater contamination — headline writers across the state had a field day. The dailies reacted with similar vigor when the group released a final version of the report in February (complete with simplified press release heralding: "New Study Shows No Evidence of Groundwater Contamination from Hydraulic Fracturing") and headline skimmers around the state surely have since exonerated the practice. The findings of the 400-plus page report were, of course, much more involved. While Groat's team found no direct link between fracking and water contamination (unlike an EPA study of Wyoming happenings), they cited numerous kinks in the process, like surface spills of toxic flow-back or well blowouts that could put groundwater at risk.
Now the Buffalo-based Public Accountability Initiative blames Groat's rosy assessment on his major stake in oil and gas. In a report last week, PAI outlined how Groat has sat on the board of directors for Houston-based oil and gas drillers Plains Exploration and Production (PXP) since 2006. Among the things Groat didn't disclose in his report or to UT officials: he's since banked over $400,000 in cash payouts and over $1.3 million in stock options from PXP; in 2011 Groat's PXP compensation, a mix of cash and stock, hit $413,900 — more than double his 2012 UT salary of $173,000. Groat's total PXP stock holdings are valued at around $1.6 million.