** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **
Contact: Eric Parizo
Christine for CCISD Campaign Files Electioneering Complaint
Against Clear Creek ISD with Texas Attorney General’s Office
Complaint alleges Board President Dr. Laura DuPont authorized
Chief Communications Officer Elaina Polsen to interfere on a candidate’s behalf
LEAGUE CITY (March 23, 2021) – The Christine for CCISD Campaign (aka Christine Parizo Student Success Committee) today announced that it has filed a formal school board electioneering complaint against the Clear Creek Independent School District with the Office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The complaint, filed March 22, 2021, alleges that CCISD Board of Trustees President Dr. Laura DuPont authorized CCISD Chief Communications Officer Elaina Polsen to interfere in the May 2021 CCISD Board of Trustees election on behalf of James J. Cunningham, District 5 Trustee and candidate for reelection.
The Christine for CCISD Campaign is calling on CCISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams to place Ms. Polsen on administrative leave, and for Dr. DuPont to take a leave of absence from the Board of Trustees, pending the results of a full electioneering investigation by the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
“I am frustrated and disappointed but frankly not surprised that CCISD would resort to underhanded tactics, apparently even violating Texas state law, in a desperate attempt to help Mr. Cunningham’s floundering campaign,” said Eric Parizo, campaign manager for the Christine for CCISD Campaign. “CCISD leaders are clearly scared; they know that when Christine is elected to the Board of Trustees, District 5 position, she will restore the voice of the people, and business as usual for CCISD administrators will be over.”
In the complaint, the Christine for CCISD Campaign alleges that CCISD violated multiple provisions in Texas state law that prohibit school board electioneering, defined as unlawfully providing support for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.
On Feb. 25, 2021, Dr. DuPont advised Mr. Cunningham to forward a campaign-related email, which contained interview questions from a news reporter, to Ms. Polsen. Ms. Polsen, in her professional capacity as an employee and member of the executive management team of CCISD, subsequently contacted the news reporter on Mr. Cunningham’s behalf and attempted to exert influence regarding which topics were included in an upcoming news article on the Board of Trustees election.
The intent and desired result of this effort by Dr. DuPont and Ms. Polsen was to facilitate an unfair advantage to Mr. Cunningham’s reelection campaign. Mr. Cunningham sought to avoid answering a specific question about critical race theory (CRT), for fear it would be perceived as unfavorable to his chances for reelection.
These actions by Dr. DuPont and Mr. Cunningham are in direct violation of Tex. Educ. Code Sec. 11.169, which expressly prohibits Board of Trustees members of a Texas independent school district from “using state or local funds or other resources of the district to electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.”
By encouraging and tacitly endorsing Mr. Cunningham’s subsequent action to contact and solicit assistance from Ms. Polsen, Dr. DuPont is, in her official capacity, de-facto sanctioning the use of district resources for campaign activities, which is a violation of Tex. Educ. Code Sec. 11.169.
Additionally, the campaign alleges that Ms. Polsen is in violation of Section 255.003(a) of the Texas Election Code. As a school district official, she used public resources – namely, her email account, her district-issued phone, her position, time and expertise – to advocate on behalf of a political candidate, Mr. Cunningham.
Documentation of the communication between Mr. Cunningham, Mr. DuPont, and Ms. Polsen is available here (pdf), and documentation confirming the subsequent communication between Ms. Polsen and the news reporter is provided here (pdf). The Christine for CCISD Campaign obtained the email communication between Mr. Cunningham, Dr. DuPont, and Ms. Polsen, which serves as the basis of the complaint filed with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, via a Texas Public Information Act request.
“If Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cares about election integrity, and I truly believe he does, then he has no choice but to direct his office to initiate an electioneering investigation immediately,” Eric Parizo said. “Voters must be able to trust that every election, from an independent school district’s board of trustees all the way to President of the United States, is administered fairly and justly. We believe an independent investigation is the only way to reaffirm CCISD’s ability to fairly and impartially oversee this election, and not stack the deck in favor of its preferred candidates.”
Christine Parizo, a longtime local education advocate, is running for the District 5 seat on the CCISD Board of Trustees, which stretches across central and west League City. This area includes 10 CCISD campuses and nearly a quarter of the school district’s 42,000 students.
The theme of the campaign, “Success for Every Student,” reflects Christine’s belief that all students deserve the best education the school district can provide. A key element of Christine’s campaign platform is to increase transparency throughout the district.
Interested parties can learn more about Christine by visiting the Christine Parizo Student Success Committee website at https://christineforccisd.com, and on Facebook at https://facebook.com/christine4ccisd. There, visitors will find more information on Christine’s campaign platform, volunteer opportunities, and an online donation portal.
Early voting in the Spring 2021 CCISD Board of Trustees election runs from April 19-27, 2021. Early voting locations include:
– Creekside Intermediate, 4320 W Main St, League City, TX 77573
– Education Support Center, 2425 E. Main St., League City 77573
– Clear Brook HS, 4607 FM 2351, Friendswood 77546
– Learner Support Center, 2903 Falcon Pass, Houston 77062 (Formerly Clear Lake HS 9th Grade Center)
Election day is Saturday, May 1, 2021. Election day voting locations include:
– Ross Elementary, 2401 W Main St, League City 77573 (for District 5 Precincts 220, 263, 401, 455, 464, 482, 487, 488)
– Ralph Parr Elementary, 1315 Texas Hwy 3 South, League City 77573 (for District 5 precincts 453, 454, 471)
CCISD residents can determine their voting precinct here: https://bit.ly/votinglookup. The last day to register to vote in the Spring 2021 CCISD Board of Trustees election is Thursday, April 1, 2021. Galveston County residents can register by mail for the election by visiting the Galveston County Voter Registration website: http://www.galvestoncountytx.gov/to/Pages/VoterRegistrationInformation.aspx.
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