Harris County officials seem to have developed a bad habit of violating state law.

After launching a likely unconstitutional welfare program last month, county officials this month could be in hot water for politicking on the public dime. According to sources online, the Harris County Clerk’s office has been circulating the image below, which at first glance appears rather benign. But upon closer inspection, the image contains a partisan political message, stating very clearly to: “Vote Democratic.”

Take a look.

Such covert advertising on behalf of a political party is, of course, against the law. Section 255.003(a) of the Texas Election Code expressly prohibits local government officials from using public monies to engage in politicking. It plainly states: “An officer or employee of a political subdivision may not knowingly spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising.” Section 255.003(c) even makes violating this section a Class A criminal offense.

Still, it’s unlikely that any officer or employee is held to account for breaking the law, given past inaction and the souring political climate. And that may be the most worrisome aspect of this story.

Constitutional governance requires that citizens—especially those in elected office—observe the Rule of Law and tend to the fair administration of justice. Those twin pillars undergird civilized society and promote lasting faith in our democratic systems. Thus, when bad actors flagrantly or repeatedly violate the principles of law and order, then we, as a society, should take matters seriously and not brush them swiftly aside. Even minor infractions, like this latest Harris County incident, can be corrosive and cumulative if left to linger.

Hopefully, some corrective action visits the proper county official responsible for politicking on the public dime; but even if not, it’s becoming quite clear that new laws and new enforcement mechanisms are needed to tamp down on local lawlessness before the problem metastasizes into something much worse.