Texas Scorecard

Harris County Voters Seek Criminal Investigation of Huffman Superintendent’s Electioneering

March 28, 2024

(Texas Scorecard)—Voters in Harris County are demanding that District Attorney Kim Ogg investigate allegations of illegal electioneering by Huffman Independent School District Superintendent Benny Soileau.

More than a dozen voters filled out affidavits accusing Soileau of using taxpayer-funded school resources to promote political issues and candidates during a November 2023 bond election and the March 2024 primary.

Texas election laws prohibit government officials and employees from using public funds or resources for political advertising. Violations are a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

The Liberty Justice Center submitted the affidavits to Ogg on Thursday, along with a letter demanding an investigation of Soileau’s election interference.

“The Affidavits allege criminal conduct under the Texas Election Code. Accordingly, your office is now required to investigate this matter,” wrote Dean McGee, LJC’s educational freedom attorney.

State law requires a district attorney’s office to investigate allegations of criminal conduct in an election if two or more voters submit affidavits.

Soileau was caught on audio telling staff at Hargrave High School to vote in the March Republican primary for specific candidates who opposed school choice.

The voters’ affidavits allege Soileau made the remarks during a February 7 meeting on school grounds, and they include a screenshot of an email from the principal directing “ALL staff” to attend that meeting.

According to LJC’s demand letter, the affiants also allege Soileau electioneered during an August 2023 meeting, directing attendees to vote for a November 2023 school bond proposition and saying he would award raises if the bond passed.

‘The conduct described above constitutes illegal electioneering with public resources in violation of the Texas Election Code,” wrote McGee.

McGee set an April 11 deadline for Ogg to confirm in writing that an investigation has been initiated. Otherwise, LJC will pursue legal action compelling Ogg to perform her duty.

“Officials at the Huffman Independent School District illegally used school resources to pressure their employees to oppose school choice candidates,” said McGee. “They violated state law—and voters’ trust—by abusing their positions of authority. We are proud to stand with Harris County voters demanding a criminal investigation by the District Attorney.”

This is the second time in two months that LJC, a nonprofit law firm that promotes government accountability and educational freedom, has helped Texans petition their district attorney to investigate local school officials for criminal electioneering violations.

Last month, Liberty Justice Center helped voters in Denton County file affidavits with District Attorney Paul Johnson, alleging that Denton ISD administrators illegally electioneered during the March primaries.

Johnson has failed to respond to Texas Scorecard’s repeated inquiries and has not confirmed to LJC whether his office has initiated an investigation.

“This is a legal obligation, not an act of discretion,” McGee told Texas Scorecard. “If we don’t receive an answer, we will assume that the DA is flouting the law.”

In a civil suit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Denton ISD employees agreed to comply with electioneering laws but faced no penalties.

Paxton’s office filed a similar lawsuit against Huffman ISD.

Texans regularly report school electioneering, particularly during high-stakes bond and tax increase elections, but no government school official has ever been criminally prosecuted.