'Friendly' or 'unfriendly': School district accused of illegal election interference

 March 3, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Officials in a Texas school district have been accused of illegally using taxpayer-funded resources to lobby for their chosen political candidates, those who oppose expanding school choice in the state.

The Liberty Justice Center said it has sent a demand letter to District Attorney Paul Johnson explaining that affidavits from a number of taxpayers require an investigation into the actions of those officials at the Denton school district.

The letter explained that school officials had been using their official school district emails, funded by taxes, to lobby against candidates they disliked for their views on school choice, which involves various provisions for charter schools, home school, and the like.

"The Liberty Justice Center1 is writing to request an investigation into criminal election interference by the Denton County Independent School District (the 'Districy'). Enclosed with this letter are affidavits from registered voters in Denton County alleging criminal conduct by the District in connection with the upcoming primary and general elections for the Texas House of Representatives and other offices," the center team explained.

"Under Texas Election Code § 273.001,2 the affidavits require your office to investigate the matter."

The letter explained a whistleblower recently provided documentation of "internal District communications demonstrating that administrators had engaged in illegal election interference."

Specifically, the charge is that district employee Lindsay Lujan "sent a political advertisement from her school email address … to all staff at Alexander Elementary school. The email linked to a website operated by Texans for Public Education identifying which candidates were 'FRIENDLY' or 'UNFRIENDLY,' threatening that employees would not receive raises if the wrong candidates won the election, and offering to use school resources to 'cover' those voting in the Republican Primary," the letter said.

The Liberty Justice Center explained, "In February, school administrators from the Denton County Independent School District used their school email addresses to pressure staff to vote in the Republican primary—regardless of their political affiliation—to ensure favored candidates would win the elections. The emails specifically targeted candidates who support the expansion of school choice initiatives in Texas, linking to a political advertisement featuring a color-coded guide on which 'friendly' candidates to vote for and which 'unfriendly' candidates to vote against. Employees were told that they would not receive raises if the 'wrong candidates' won."

That, the center said, amounts to illegal electioneering prohibited by the Texas Election Code.

"Denton County school officials illegally used public resources to further a politically motivated electioneering scheme," said Educational Freedom Attorney Dean McGee. "In an attempt to sway the election, they abused their positions to pressure employees into voting against candidates who support school choice. This is a blatant violation of state law, and we are proud to join registered voters throughout Denton County in demanding that the District Attorney promptly investigate this matter."

Accompanying the letter was a copy of electronic mail apparently from Lindsay Lujan's account at the Denton school district in which recipients were warned, "Here is a list of candidates and whether or not the (sic) SUPPORT or OPPOSE Public School education." The word SUPPORT was highlighted in green, and OPPOSE in red.

It specifically mentions "Billions of $$ sitting there holding us hostage, for vouchers."

Another message from a school administrator threatened, "Vote for candidates who support public education and school funding in the Republican primaries, no matter what your party affiliation is…"

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