Trent is the founder and editor of Texas Watchdog, a Houston-based award-winning nonprofit online journalism organization.
He began his professional daily journalism career in 1996 in New Jersey at The Bridgeton News, his hometown paper. When Trent reported to work covering government in Bridgeton, the town was a dying industrial city with a population of about 20,000. It was here he got the taste for investigating corruption in government and following local politics.
He later worked for the The News’ sister paper — The Gloucester County Times — where he worked under Walt Herring, perhaps America’s last hard-hitting, hard-charging and hard-drinking editor. Trent’s investigation of the New Jersey Lottery got him noticed by The Denver Post, and soon after he moved to the Mile High City.
He became a frequent award winner at The Post, largely for his political coverage. He also covered wildfires in the West and travelled overseas to cover the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He also uncovered widespread problems and conflicts-of-interest at the Colorado Lottery.
After five years at The Post, he became city editor at The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama. He grew to love the state — and the South — but soon after was wooed away from The News by former Post editor Ricky Young who was then city editor of The Tennessean in Nashville.
At The Tennessean, Trent was part of the team that uncovered cronyism and corruption in the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He reported on ethics in government and the influence of lobbyists on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill. He continued to chalk up journalism awards. he was the co-winner of the newsroom’s Jimmy Davy Award, recognizing the newsroom’s “most valuable player.” The city’s alt-weekly Nashville Scene named him the city’s “Best Capitol Hill Reporter” that same year.
He later worked as an on-air investigative reporter for WKRN-Channel 2 in Nashville, where he broke news about legislators’ conflicts of interest, Tennessee’s new ethics laws and cost overruns by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Before moving to Houston, he worked for the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, uncovering government waste and helping to make state government more transparent. While there, he helped expose campaign finance violations of sitting legislators, put a spotlight on elected leaders who failed to disclose possible conflicts of interest and was part of the team that highlighted Al Gore’s high rate of energy use at his Nashville home after Gore’s climate change movie won an Oscar.
In 2008, he moved to Houston to launch the online news and training center Texas Watchdog. He continues to break stories that uncover politicians’ conflicts of interest, spotlight track special interest money and that push for more transparency on government.
In addition to his work in Houston, Trent often travels back to his home state of New Jersey for his work on a book about corruption in the Garden State.