Conroe, April 7 – The corruption of the Conroe Independent School District’s (CISD) political action committee, which is managing its advocacy campaign for the $807 million bond package and tax hike set for voter referendum on May 4, 2019, stands in stark contrast to the simplicity and transparency of the grassroots citizen organization, Children’s Hope PAC, which opposes the bloated and unnecessary bond package.
On April 4, the “Community for Conroe ISD’s Future,” a Political Action Committee which CISD established through the formation of its so-called Facilities Planning Committee, filed its Campaign Finance Report with the Texas Ethics Committee for the reporting period of January 1 through March 25, 2019. The Facilities Planning Committee recommended the bond package CISD’s administration told the Committee to recommend.
The PAC’s Campaign Finance Report reveals the true proponents of the $807 million spending package, which CISD had admitted has nothing whatsoever to do with improving educational outcomes: CISD’s vendors.
Corruption: “Community for Conroe ISD’s Future”
Community for Conroe ISD’s Future (CFUT, pronounced “SEE-fut”) is actually a vendor-dominated organization advocating for spending more money to benefit directly the members of CFUT. Although no campaign contributions have yet arisen from Nelda and Jim Blair, the lawyers who provide property tax collection services to CISD as one of its largest and most profitable vendors, Nelda Blair is clearly the most vocal advocate for CFUT and CISD’s $807 million bond package.
CFUT took in $15,665.00 of contributions during the reporting period, more than eleven (11) times the amount of the funds which the Children’s Hope PAC received. CFUT spent $10,097.68 in political expenditures. If CFUT’s contributions, $13,750.00 came from corporations or labor organizations, 87.78% of the total contributions CFUT received.
$14,250.00 or 90.97% of CFUT’s contributions came from outside of Montgomery County.
CFUT’s major contributors so far include:
- RJMJR Consultants of Texas, Friendswood, $500.00 – IT and Portfolio Management firm, which is a major CISD vendor and regularly receives contracts in excess of $50,000 per year from the school district.
- DBR Engineering, Houston, $1,750.00 – A mechanical, electrical, and plumbing firm, already earmarked to receive several million dollars of lucrative contracts under the bond package.
- Geoscience Engineering & Testing, Inc., Houston, $3,000.00 – not current vendor but major contributor seeking lucrative contracts from the school district.
- Hellas Construction, Austin, $2,500.00 – General contractor which is a major CISD vendor.
- IBI Group, Houston, $5,000.00 – Major multimillion dollar CISD Vendor.
- Jones Borne Inc., Humble, $500.00 – Structural Engineering company seeking contracts under CISD bond package.
- Upchurch Kimbrough, Houston, $1,000.00 – Architecture firm seeking contracts under CISD bond package.
CFUT spent $6,500 for political signs, $2,500 for a political consultant, $515 on printing, $97.68 on pizza, and $485 on Facebook advertising.
Clearly, CISD and CFUT are leveraging vendors who seek massive profits from the bond funds and the increased taxation to finance the political campaign for CISD’s and CFUT’s efforts to win voter approval for the bond package.
Children’s Hope PAC
In contrast, the Children’s Hope PAC, a grassroots citizens advocacy organization, only received $1,356.03 in contributions during the reporting period and spend $44.05 out of the contributions (other than in-kind contribution expenditures).
One of the two largest contributors to Children’s Hope PAC during the reporting period was Kelli Cook, a rancher and leading conservative activist and political organizer, who contributed a total of $426.50, $376.50 of which were in-kind contributions for printing. The other largest contributor was Eric Yollick, who contributed $500.00, as well as a $167.15 in-kind contribution for the website of the group and $108.30 for paper. Yollick is the Publisher of The Golden Hammer and an attorney.
April Andreski, a private school administrator and the Treasurer of the political action committee, made a $100 contribution. The group’s only expenditure, beside the in-kind contributions, was $44.05 to a company which administers online donations.