Culture of Taxpayer-Funded Political Influence

Taxpayer-funded organizations may promote voter registration and communicate election schedules, but the use of taxpayer funds for electioneering is prohibited.

There is always a temptation to use public funds to engage in subtle (or overt) electioneering for the “right” causes.  When taxpayer-funded organizations form a statewide association, those temptations to use public money can become reality.

Such an organization has been formed, and is being pushed as an alliance between tax-funded vendors, unions, public schools, and political advocacy organizations.

The private, non-profit, Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), public school districts, the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE), and numerous education establishment groups have created a statewide “get out the vote” program called “Culture of Voting.” Its goal is to utilize taxpayer resources to sway how public school staff, teachers, parents, and students vote.

And it’s all being done under the guise of “civic responsibility.”

It is important to note that TASB, although private, is entirely taxpayer funded and generates most of its revenue off contracts with school districts. In other words, it’s a vendor of public schools and therefore wholly supported by taxpayer funds. TASB’s school board “members” are the same government officials who then award TASB the government contracts. I

The “Culture of Voting” program specifically calls on school districts to inject themselves into the political process, using taxpayer-funded resources to help influence elections.  They promote strategies targeting administrators, staff, teachers, PTA organizations, and students.  The overall goal is to create a block of over 1 million potential voters.

Voting in mass, they would influence statewide office and state legislative races. Locally, the combined voter block would have the mass to virtually guarantee approval of tax ratification elections and bond propositions.  All it takes is registration, indoctrination and mobilization.

TASB has published a suggested resolution (HERE). Two-hundred and nine school districts are already participating in this for “Culture of Voting.”  Their boards and administrators are committing to implement this register, indoctrinate and mobilize program, including such tactics as directing employees and students to highly politicized web sites run by TASB and ATPE, voter pledge “cards,” district assemblies, use of school buses to shuttle employees to the polls, time off with pay, organizing non-profit PTAs, etc.

A Culture of Voting White Paper (HERE) documents their program to register, indoctrinate, and motivate ISD employees to vote as a united block.

There is an initiative underway to stop the unlawful use of taxpayer funds for electioneering.  The Texas Attorney General has been asked to determine if the state Election Code has been violated.  And the Texas Education Commissioner has been asked to direct the ISD Boards of Education to cease implementation of TASB’s “Culture of Voting” program and, further, to establish policies limiting election activities to encouraging voter registrations and communicating election dates.

Locally, the Frisco Board of Education attempted to get such a resolution passed at the October board meeting, but there were enough questions that the resolution was tabled until the November 13 board meeting.  The sponsor of the resolution, Debbie Gillespie, will presumably have it back on the agenda.  We will advise everyone when the agenda is published late this week.

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