Texas AG opens investigation into SA banning Chick-fil-A at airport

Ken Paxton asks U.S. Dept. of Transportation to also investigate

SAN ANTONIO – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is launching an investigation into the city of San Antonio's decision to exclude Chick-fil-A from a concession contract at the San Antonio International Airport. 

According to a news release, Paxton sent a letter Thursday to Mayor Ron Nirenberg and members of the San Antonio City Council informing them of the probe.

The City Council voted March 21 by a 6-4 vote to remove Chick-fil-A from a new airport concessionaire contract, despite a favorable recommendation by city staff, citing Chick-fil-A owners' religious beliefs.

"The city of San Antonio's decision to exclude a respected vendor based on the religious beliefs associated with that company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance," Paxton said. "The city's discriminatory decision is not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law."

Paxton also requested that U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao open an investigation into the matter, saying the city may have violated federal law and Transportation Department regulations. 

The news release said the First Amendment protects individuals and closely-held companies from governmental restrictions based on their religious views or religious status. Federal regulations governing grant money provided to the San Antonio airport prohibit religious discrimination.

District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse, who is running for mayor, said the council needs to reverse its decision on the Chick-fil-A situation.

"The City Council must immediately reconvene on this item at the earliest opportunity to consider revoking this vote and moving forward with Chick-fil-A as part of the contract," Brockhouse said in a statement. "Mistakes happen, but they can be fixed and we can show inclusiveness by honoring all points of view. Disagreement is not discrimination and Chick-fil-A deserves to be included."

Nirenberg said he will wait until the City Attorney's Office reviews the letter to make a comment.

"I am withholding comment until we have had adequate time to analyze it," he said.

About the Author:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.