Epoch Times

Grand Jury Indicts Two Texas School Principals Accused of Electioneering

April 5, 2024

(Epoch Times)—Two Texas elementary school principals have been criminally charged following allegations of electioneering before the Republican primary elections last month.

Jesus Lujan, 33, and Lindsay Lujan, 36, a married couple who are principals at Borman and Alexander Elementary Schools in Denton Independent School District, were indicted separately by a grand jury on a single charge each of unlawful use of the school district’s internal mail system for political advertising, according to the filings on April 2.

Ms. Lujan is also the director of the district’s special programs.

The indictment follows a letter from the Liberty Justice Center to the Denton County District Attorney with enough affidavits from voters to trigger an investigation into the allegations of “criminal election interference” by Denton ISD. The Liberty Justice Center is a nonprofit and nonpartisan public interest litigation firm, according to its website.

“We are proud to help Texans exercise their right under the Texas Election Code to hold government officials accountable for using taxpayer resources to sway elections,” Liberty Justice Center lawyer Dean McGee said in an email to The Epoch Times. “The DA’s actions are a win for all of the Denton voters who came forward to ensure that corruption was not swept under the rug.”

Liberty Justice Center’s demand letter to the district attorney was prompted by a whistleblower.

“On or about February 21, a whistleblower came forward with internal District communications demonstrating that administrators had engaged in illegal election interference,” reads the letter sent to Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson.

“Specifically, it appears that on February 5, 2024, the District’s Director of Special Programs, Lindsay Lujan, sent a political advertisement from her school email address, [email protected], to all staff at Alexander Elementary School.”

The letter goes on to accuse Ms. Lujan of sending a link with a list of candidates identifying them as “Friendly” or “Unfriendly” based on their stance on school choice. It also accuses Mr. Lujan of similar actions.

Attorney General Sues Multiple Districts

It is unlawful for an officer or employee of a political subdivision to “knowingly spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising,” according to Texas Election Code 255.003(a).

In addition, the Texas Education Code Section 11.169 states that school district officials and employees are prohibited from “using state or local funds to electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.”

Electioneering is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

In February and March, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a string of lawsuits against multiple school districts, including Denton, Frisco, Castleberry, Hutto, Denison, Huffman, Aledo, and Harrison over alleged illegal electioneering.

However, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) does not have the authority to criminally prosecute under the Texas Election Code.

“School districts should be aware that illegal electioneering is criminal conduct, and violators could be subject to criminal prosecution by local authorities,” the OAG said in a press release. “While unable to criminally prosecute violators at this time, Attorney General Paxton is committed to using all available means to protect the integrity of Texas elections.”

Mr. Paxton’s 10-page lawsuit against Denton ISD accused Mr. Lujan and Mrs. Lujan of using their school district’s email system to send voting information to staff, asking them to vote against Republican primary candidates who support school choice.

“Voting in Republican Primaries is especially important because the votes cast in primaries inform issues that the party will prioritize,” Mr. Lujan allegedly wrote in a schoolwide email, which was attached as an exhibit in the lawsuit. “Since TX tends to always elect a Republican, we want to inform the party through our primary votes which issues we care about the most and how we feel about them.

“Thus, vote for candidates who support public education and school funding in the Republican primaries, no matter what your party affiliation is, Republican or Democrat,” the email continued. “Consider thinking from a ‘purple’ mindset in future elections, voting for the candidate that will support public ed and funding in the future, despite their party affiliation.”

School Choice Politics

The issue of school choice, a top priority for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, has been a hot button for the state’s divided GOP. The House repeatedly blocked the measure during last year’s legislative session.

Mr. Abbott spent months leading up to the primary stumping for candidates who support savings education accounts that would allow parents to use state money to fund private or homeschool education.

Smaller, mostly rural, school districts fear they will lose significant state funding if the legislature passes such a plan.

“Denton ISD will NOT be able to provide raises next year if legislation doesn’t change!” Ms. Lujan allegedly warned staff members, according to a separate email attached to the lawsuit. “Here is a list of all candidates and whether or not they SUPPORT or OPPOSE Public School education.”

In late February, Mr. Paxton secured an injunction against Castleberry ISD, followed by a similar injunction against Denton ISD on March 1. The injunctions say that district employees “shall not use any funds or resources of Denton Independent School District, including e-mail, or other means to engage in electioneering in violation of the Texas Election Code.”

Mr. Paxton also secured a temporary restraining order against Frisco ISD, ordering the district to cease “using official resources to stump for certain policies and political measures,” according to the OAG. In March, the attorney general filed a motion for contempt, alleging the district failed to abide by the order.