Apparently, the Texas Ethics Commission’s clearing of two Katy ISD officials of charges that they used district computers to urge employees to vote for incumbents in a school board election is not the end of the story, for the Fort Bend County DA has taken action by referring new complaints to the TEC.
Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey filed complaints involving 42 Katy Independent School District employees who may have violated election laws by using district computers to send campaign messages via e-mail.
The complaints, which allege potential violations of civil law, were filed with the Texas Ethics Commission on Wednesday, Healey said.
The action comes a week after the commission dismissed complaints against two high-ranking Katy ISD officials accused of using district computers to urge employees to vote for incumbents in a school board election. All three were re-elected in the May 7 election.
Texas law prohibits using district resources to distribute political advertising.
However, Healey said 77 e-mails from 42 other Katy ISD employees might have violated the election code and are being forwarded to the commission for further investigation. Healey didn’t reveal the names.
Question: Why didn’t the TEC’s investigation include these alleged violations of electoral law? (Answer: Because the TEC is a toothless and impotent body that couldn’t investigate allegations of low prices at Wal-Mart if its life depended on it.)
The probe started in May when Healey’s office received information that Katy ISD employees sent campaign messages on district computers. The investigation was handled by the Texas Rangers.
Healey said that after he reviewed the results of the investigation he did not think criminal sanctions were warranted.
Instead, Healey recommended district employees and administrators be trained on election law.
Question: As Bob Dunn notes, Healy decided months ago that the allegations did not rise to criminality. So what was he doing with this? Certainly he has an obligation to refer evidence of wrongdoing to the appropriate body, but May was a long time ago. Did it really take six months to sort it all out? Maybe Healy knows that the TEC doesn’t look past whatever it’s given up front, and he wanted to be as thorough as possible. I’m just a little confused is all.
Meanwhile, in other Fort Bend electoral news, the Department of Justice is coming to town to clarify the county’s efforts to provide non-English-speaking citizens with an equal opportunity to vote. Bob has been following this story from the beginning, so to catch up on things go here, here, and here.