Documents uncovered by Texas Scorecard show just how closely the campaign of failed politician Scott Milder was coordinating with school district bureaucrats around the state. And reveal just how much he was relying on friendly school administrators to be the backbone of his campaign to defeat Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Milder got just 23.95 percent of the statewide vote.
Based on tips from whistleblowing teachers and school district employees, Texas Scorecard has been gathering documents from around the state. In emails begrudgingly turned over by school officials under the state’s open records law, Milder’s campaign can be found to have been constantly spamming teachers on their school email addresses with hyperbolic attacks against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Amounting to what appears to be little more than an in-kind donation to his campaign, many school districts simply gave him the contact information of teachers.
In January, Milder sent an email to Lubbock ISD’s Executive Director for Communications and Community Relations, Nancy Sharp.
Please send all staff district email addresses in an Excel file.
Scott Milder, Rational Republican
for Texas Lieutenant Governor
Sharp replied that she assumed “this is an open records request.”
The district then provided him with a spreadsheet with the information. (When asked how many other candidates the Lubbock school district provided employee email addresses to, Sharp said she had “no idea who has requested information for a campaign.”)
Leading up to the March 6 primary, Milder’s campaign was hailed by school administrators as what would be evidence of their electoral prowess. Their boasts were, inadvertently, correct. Attempts by school superintendents to defeat conservatives Patrick, State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood), and State Reps. Mike Lang (R–Granbury), Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler), and Kyle Biedermann (R–Fredricksburg) were rebuffed by voters by wide margins.
Around the state, in district after district, Milder could be found repeatedly spamming the official work email addresses of school employees.
Milder clearly understood his campaign was pushing up against the law, advising the teachers who email addresses he was sending unsolicited emails: “Receiving this email or any email at your district email address is not a violation of any law. Forwarding this email would be considered a violation so please do not forward from [sic] district email or device.”
In other words, “I can spam you, but slip up and you’ll be the ones paying the consequences.”
At least one school administrator in Harris County ignored that recommendation. Galena Park ISD Principal Joe A. Coleman used his district email account to forward a Milder email to his staff. Coleman explicitly told his staff to support Milder’s liberal candidacy.
A day later Coleman seemed to recognize he had broken the law, writing to a colleague that campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime was “probably not good judgement.”
Milder’s day job is the “chief elections strategist” for Stanec Architecture, a company that designs school buildings. Milder advises the firm on how to participate in local bond elections so they can swoop in and profit from local debt. Operating under a different name in 2007, the company was the largest donor to a campaign that put Rockwall ISD nearly $200 million in debt.
Many suspect Milder’s run against Patrick was designed to highlight his firm so that he can cultivate future business opportunities. The firm probably did not count on Milder losing by historic margins campaigning on their questionable business model.
Operating under their previous name, Stanec lost a contract with Northwest ISD after it was revealed they had hired a man who pled guilty to four felonies related to a fraud scandal after he managed construction at DFW Airport in the 1980s to oversee a project.
Similarly, the company was terminated from a contract in New Braunfels after Comal ISD Superintendent Marc Walker was indicted on felony theft and money laundering charges related to a $263 million bond package for school construction that Milder helped promote.
From his campaign tactics, Milder seemed to think school superintendents—who have long positioned themselves as political powerhouses at home—could bully teachers and voters into supporting his candidacy.
When the votes were counted, more than 75 percent of Republican primary voters proved Milder wrong.