San Antonio – TPPF President Jeff Judson called upon the Bexar County District Attorney to investigate the possible violation of the Texas Election Code by the Northeast Independent School District (NEISD) in its advertising for an upcoming bond election. NEISD purchased a six-page color insert in the Express News on August 5. TPPF believes the purchase was a violation of Texas Election Code ‘255.003 which prohibits a political subdivision from spending taxpayer money for political advertising. “The government’s proper role is to provide unbiased, factual information to citizens, not to advocate political positions,” said Judson.
He stated further, “I believe deeply in democracy and fair elections. The Texas Election Code mandates a level playing field between proponents and opponents of any election measure, such as a bond election. The Texas Legislature felt it was so important to free elections and democracy that it made the violation of this statute a criminal offense.”
While the Election Code allows a school district to make a factual statement concerning the purpose of a bond election, TPPF asserted that the advertising insert contained false information, including a headline stating “[s]tate mandates computer technology skills taught beginning in kindergarten classes.” The ad goes on to say that “[t]he Technology portion of the bond package is basically a result of state mandates.” The Texas Education Code contradicts this statement. Career and Technology Applications are part of “enrichment” curriculum, which means it is not mandated by the state.
“The consequences of what NEISD has done are significant. If the District is allowed to continue its practices, other school districts will also purchase political advertising to encourage passage of bond elections. Vast sums of taxpayer money will be spent to promote bond elections. It is natural to assume that some citizens would oppose a bond measure. However, those citizens would have to fund the distribution of information themselves and not at taxpayer expense. This creates an unlevel playing field,” Judson said. The District Attorney has advised county commissioners in the past that there is a general prohibition on lobbying with public funds.
TPPF is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute based in San Antonio. It is dedicated to the core principles of limited government, free markets and individual responsibility.