Former Senator Don Adams to receive FOI Foundation’s James Madison Award


Aug. 4, 2015

AUSTIN – Former Senator Don Adams, who has worked for decades to protect the public’s right to know, is the recipient of the 2015 James Madison Award presented by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

The award goes to those who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to upholding the principles of the First Amendment and open government. It will be presented Sept. 17 during the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon at the foundation’s Bernard and Audre Rapoport State Conference in Austin.

“Senator Don Adams’ steadfast support of and tireless advocacy for open government and First Amendment rights has spanned four decades and three branches of government. I am thrilled to see him being recognized with the James Madison Award for his excellence and dedication in preserving these rights that are so critical to our democracy,” said Laura Prather, co-chair of the FOI Foundation’s legislative committee.

Adams, currently a municipal judge in Central Texas, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1968 and served two terms. He then was elected to the state Senate, serving through 1977. Adams was involved in writing and passing the first Texas Open Records Act and worked to modernize and reform the Legislature’s ethics requirements after the Sharpstown scandal broke in 1971. Adams later served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Dolph Briscoe and led campaigns for Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby.

Throughout the years, Adams has maintained a passion for transparency in government and protecting First Amendment rights. He has volunteered his time to newspaper and broadcast industry associations and has provided unpaid legislative expertise to the non-profit Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He was instrumental in passage of the Free Flow of Information Act; the Texas Citizens Participation Act; the Defamation Mitigation Act; the electronic communications provision of the Texas Public Information Act; and, this year, the defense against libel for accurate reports of third-party allegations on matters of public concern.

Since 1987, the James Madison Award has honored journalists, attorneys, elected officials and vigilant citizens. Last year’s recipient was veteran newsman and Texas Press Association executive Donnis Baggett.

“I am so very proud to be given this honor, which I must share with Laura Prather and Donnis Baggett,” Adams said. “The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is one of the most important advocates of transparency in government, and that makes this honor especially important to me.”

Paul Watler, chairman of the FOI Foundation’s Madison Award committee, said press and speech freedoms are stronger in Texas because of Adams.

“Don Adams is a Founding Father of the people’s right to know in Texas,” Watler said. “Senator Adams helped give birth to the Open Records Act. Don has championed open government ever since. He is a folksy and noble example of the virtue of a citizen-legislator.”

For information on FOIFT and its state conference go to or call 512-377-1575.