Texas school officials indicted for criminal electioneering, face jail time and fine if convicted

A husband and wife employed by a local school district have been criminally charged after allegations of illegal electioneering in a recent Texas school election.

Lindsay and Jesus Lujan, who…

A husband and wife employed by a local school district have been criminally charged after allegations of illegal electioneering in a recent Texas school election.

Lindsay and Jesus Lujan, who each work as principals for the Denton Independent School District (ISD), were indicted separately by a grand jury in Denton County on April 2, according to court documents reviewed by The Lion.

Indictments for Lindsay and Jesus each cite violations of Texas statute 255.0031, the law originally reported by The Lion as allegedly violated, which prohibits the use of school resources to campaign in any election. 

The indictments came after a watchdog group sent a letter to the Denton County District Attorney with enough citizen affidavits alleging criminal violations to trigger an investigation under Texas law. 

The Liberty Justice Center (LJC) sent the letter to the Denton DA, Paul Johnson, on Feb. 27.  

“We respectfully submit that your office is now required to investigate this matter pursuant to Election Code § 273.001.6,” said the LJC letter. 

Both Lujans are accused of using the school district email system to send out election information about which candidates to vote for in a Republican primary, marking those who support more money for public schools in green and those who support choice in education in red. 

“Denton ISD will NOT be able to provide raises next year if legislation doesn’t change!” warned the emails, which were revealed online by school reform advocate Corey DeAngelis, a senior fellow at the American Federation for Children and a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.  

LJC attorney Dean McGee told The Lion that the Lujans “abused their positions to pressure employees into voting against candidates who support school choice. This is a blatant violation of state law.” 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton agreed

Previously, Paxton, who, under arcane Texas rules, was unable to prosecute the electioneering case, settled a civil lawsuit with the Denton ISD on March 1 over the allegations.   

“As stated previously, we agree that election laws should be followed. Our Board of School Trustees adopted board policies in 2018 and 2021 regarding elections and campaign ethics, and we train all Trustees and Administrators on these policies annually. It is our expectation that these policies be followed,” the ISD commented at the time of the settlement, according to local KFOX News 14. 

Denton isn’t the only district facing such allegations. Four other school districts have either settled or are facing suits by Paxton alleging electioneering. Two districts, Frisco ISD, and Denton ISD are under a restraining orders preventing similar actions, reported local ABC News 13. 

It’s unclear whether anyone else in those districts could also face criminal charges.  

But with the Denton indictments, LJC’s McGee, said it’s a “win” for Denton voters.   

“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. 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,” McGee told The Lion. 

It could also serve as a warning to school officials who have flouted Texas electioneering laws for years. 

If the Lujans are found guilty of violating the electioneering statute, a Class A misdemeanor,  they could be subject to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000, or both. 

The Lujans will be arraigned on May 13 in the Denton County Criminal Court under separate presiding judges.