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Texas AG Paxton Frisco ISD, 2 other districts for election engineering

AG Ken Paxton sues Frisco ISD alleging illegal electioneering
AG Ken Paxton sues Frisco ISD alleging illegal electioneering 00:29

FRISCO - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against Frisco Independent School District on Wednesday, alleging illegal electioneering by using official resources to urge people to vote in favor of a certain policy.  

Thursday, Paxton announced he also filed suit against Denison ISD and Castleberry ISD.

The lawsuit against Frisco ISD claims the  Government Affairs Department repeatedly used official resources to stump for certain policies and political measures, using Facebook posts as examples.

Frisco ISD Govt Affairs Facebook post from Feb. 20, 2024

A post to the Frisco ISD's Government Affairs Facebook page on Feb. 20 reads as follows:

"Today is the first day of early voting!
Public education is always on the ballot, especially during the primaries. The Texas legislature determines public school funding. Last session, proposed legislation that tied public school funding to a voucher program failed, leaving Frisco ISD $90 million behind 2019 funding levels.
Many of the seats up for election do not have competitive races during the November general election, so whoever wins the primary - in most cases - will win the November election. That means candidates we're voting for right now will decide whether or not public schools get funded appropriately. Make your voice heard!"

A post the following day, Feb. 21 states:

"The state legislature determines how much money per student a school district can receive for operating expenses. They have not increased that per-student amount since 2019, and since then, we've experienced record inflation. Now, FISD is $90 million behind in buying power.
Public education is always on the ballot. Your vote decides who has a say in school funding. Make sure you get out and vote in the primary election! Early voting is happening now and Election Day is March 5."

Frisco ISD Govt Affairs Facebook post, Feb. 21

The lawsuit names Superintendent Mike Waldrip and Megan DeWolfe, FISD's Government Affairs chairperson as well as board members Dynette Davis, Gopal Ponangi, Rene Archambault, Marvin Lowe, Stephanie Elad, Mark Hill and John Classe.

Paxton's lawsuit claims those posts directly violate the Texas Election Code's prohibition against the use of "state or local funds or other resources of the district to electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party."

DeWolfe used public funds of the district, including the funds used to pay her salary and operate the Frisco ISD Government Affairs Facebook page and/or email systems to create and distribute political advertising, the lawsuit claims.  

The lawsuit also claims the other defendants authorized DeWolfe to use the district's public funds to distribute political advertising.

When asked for comment, a district spokesperson responded, "Frisco ISD does not comment on pending litigation."

Thursday, Paxton got a temporary restraining order against Frisco ISD. The court instructed Frisco ISD to immediately cease the activities that triggered the state's lawsuit.  

The lawsuit against Denison ISD states that in early February, the district's official website expressed its support or opposition for certain political candidates and stumped for its preferred policy agenda. 

Denison ISD posted a resolution adopted by its Board of Trustees endorsing certain political measures. 

The lawsuit against the Castleberry ISD says the superintendent used her official email to send out an endorsement list of political candidates and instructed the district's administration to "vote accordingly." 

Late Thursday, Paxton obtained an agreed injunction against Castleberry ISD to end its unlawful attempts to influence elections.

The Office of the Attorney General cannot criminally prosecute Election Code violations following the Court of Criminal Appeals' decision in Texas v. Stephens, therefore, the OAG filed a civil suit to attain a court order prohibiting school districts from engaging in unlawful attempts to influence elections.   

Paxton also recently sued Denton ISD for alleged illegal electioneering in district emails. 

The Office of the Attorney General says it is investigating other possible violations across the state.

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