Internal records from the Texas Department of Transportation reveal directors have been using taxpayer money to finance leftist practices and events.

The documents were provided to Texas Scorecard through an open records request from Texas Scorecard to TxDOT under the Texas Public Information Act.

Initially, TxDOT had attempted to withhold documents through an appeal to the Office of the Attorney General; however, after Texas Scorecard reported on their appeal, they withdrew and provided the records.

The records released include emails and discussions between employees regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, taxpayer dollars being used to fund DEI-related events and training programs, and TxDOT’s own DEI policies.

It was discovered through these records that TxDOT has changed the name of their DEI Section to the Talent Acquisition and Employee Resources (TAER) Section.

However, employees refer to the section as both DEI and TAER throughout the records.

Gendered Language and Pronouns

The released records stress the “importance of gendered language and inclusive language in the workplace.”

Kim Johannesen, a TxDOT workforce analysis strategist/affirmative action planner, forwarded an email from HR Daily Advisor advertising a free class on “inclusive language”  to several of her colleagues, including Erika Garcia and Fiona Njororai, DEI program and training strategists; Overlin Rodriguez, a workforce analysis strategist/affirmative action planner; and David Davalos, the DEI section director.

Johannesen recommended creating a page to share the class “with others.”

The class description reads:

Inclusive language is an important tool for organizations to build an equitable and diverse workforce. Not only can inclusive language help break down harmful gender stereotypes, but it can also promote respect for individual identity, inclusion, and diversity. Inclusive language can also help attract and retain a diverse workforce and improve employee morale and productivity. In this panel, we’ll discuss the impact of gendered language as well as steps organizations should take to promote inclusive language in the workplace.

The description also says participants would discuss “defining gendered language in the workplace, the benefits of inclusive language, [and] strategies for promoting gender inclusiveness, pronouns, sexuality, gender identity, and gender expression—how they’re different and why they matter.”

Garcia responded, saying this would be a “good resource” and if needed, she also has “that guide to inclusive language sheet.” TxDOT did not provide the inclusive language sheet to Texas Scorecard.

Some emails between staff members, including multiple HR employees, include “preferred pronouns” in their email signatures.

Kari Banta, program manager with TxDOT, signs all of her emails with her name, title, and “pronouns: she/her/hers.” Similarly, Davalos includes his preferred pronouns in his email signatures (he/him/his.)

Using Taxpayer Dollars to Fund DEI Classes and Trainings

TxDOT also uses taxpayer dollars to pay the salaries of employees that work in its DEI Section. These salaries are as high as $189,739.

These employees are paid to give and attend presentations or classes based on diversity, equity, and inclusivity.

One class taken by new employees is titled “Workplace Inclusion,” which reviews how to be more inclusive toward other genders, races, and identities, overall pursuing a more “inclusive” environment in the workplace.

David McMillan, TxDOT’s HR division director, receives and occasionally forwards weekly emails from CPS HR Training Center regarding DEI. TxDOT uses taxpayer money to finance a subscription to this training center.

At one point, records show McMillan received an email about a class CPS HR Training Center offers called “Implicit/Unconscious Bias,” where class participants are taught how to “define implicit bias, explain the impact of implicit bias and why it can be difficult to identify, select evidence-based strategies to recognize, minimize and eliminate implicit bias, apply evidence-base strategies, [and] reflect on what you can do to root out implicit bias.”

McMillan was also subscribed to SHRM HR’s daily newsletter, which reinforces racist agendas. One of the articles SHRM HR recommended was titled “Racial, Gender Discrimination in Tech Industry Is Worsening.”

This article reinforced racist stereotypes and allows taxpayer-funded employees to have a more “woke” agenda recommended to them.

In yet another daily newsletter from SHRM HR to McMillan, he is introduced to their “Corporate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training” from Kantola.

Communications between Davalos and Jessica Novicke, an HR specialist, discuss the importance of racial inclusion.

Davalos said he was recently provided with some information from an onboarding anonymous survey about a new employee who doesn’t “feel welcome.”

my coworkers don’t make me feel welcome here at fayette co. maybe it’s my skin color i don’t know. I get’s the cold feeling every time i walk in room. I it’s sad at time! [sic]

Davalos used the situation to have his “inclusion team” create and present a presentation on civility and inclusion.

Using Taxpayer Dollars to Fund Employee Segregation Groups

There are also documents about employee resource groups (ERG), which use racial and gender segregation to “foster a diverse, inclusive workplace.”

Within one record, TxDOT employees discuss the agency paying for these ERGs and their events and travel cost:

Employee attendance should be documented using work time, unless the Event occurs before/after the employee’s work hours or lunch period. Travel costs will be paid by the district/division whose employee incurs the cost.

The only time taxpayer dollars are not used to fund these segregation groups is when they are having off-the-clock celebrations.

Texas Scorecard has sent additional open records requests to TxDOT regarding DEI policies and practices and ERGs. As of publication, Texas Scorecard has yet to receive a response.

Soli Rice

A journalist for Texas Scorecard, Soli is a new Texan with a passion for politics. She's excited to hone her writing skills and help spread truth to Texans.