A year after persuading Texas lawmakers to buy millions of child identification kits that had no proved record of success, a businessman with a troubled history found an in with the state's attorney general, The Texas Tribune reports. Last fall, Kenny Hansmire was tapped by Attorney General Ken Paxton to be part of a coalition to combat opioid abuse that Paxton called “the largest drug prevention, education, abatement and disposal campaign in U.S. history.” Riffing off the name of a popular book about Texas football, Paxton announced the Friday Night Lights Against Opioids coalition and pilot program. The effort would distribute 3.5 million packets at high school football games with a powder capable of destroying opioids when mixed with water.
Paxton didn’t provide a price tag for the effort or explain Hansmire’s role, but he said a partnership with the businessman’s National Child Identification Program would be important to the program’s success. A former NFL player, Hansmire has persuaded leaders in multiple states to spend millions of dollars purchasing inkless fingerprinting kits on the promise that they could help find missing children. Texas alone allocated $5.7 million for kits over the past two years. An investigation by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune found little evidence of the kits’ effectiveness and showed that the company exaggerated missing child statistics in its marketing. Paxton has been a key ally for Hansmire. In 2020, he signed a letter to then-President Trump urging him to get behind ultimately unsuccessful legislation that would approve the use of federal money to pay for the child identification kits. Hansmire later honored the attorney general at a Green Bay Packers game.