BBBD(LEGAL) - ELECTIONS: CAMPAIGN ETHICS
The board may not use state or local funds or other resources of the district to electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party. Education Code 11.169
An officer or employee of a district may not knowingly spend or authorize the spending of public funds for the purpose of political advertising. This does not apply to a communication that factually describes the purposes of a measure if the communication does not advocate passage or defeat of the measure.
An officer or employee of a district may not spend or authorize the spending of public funds for a communication describing a measure if the communication contains information that:
- The officer or employee knows is false; and
- Is sufficiently substantial and important as to be reasonably likely to influence a voter to vote for or against the measure.
It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for an offense under these provisions or the imposition of a civil penalty for conduct under these provisions that the officer or employee reasonably relied on a court order, or an interpretation of these provisions in a written opinion issued by a court of record, the attorney general, or the Ethics Commission.
On written request of the board that has ordered an election on a measure, the Ethics Commission shall prepare an advance written advisory opinion as to whether a particular communication relating to a measure does or does not comply with these provisions.
Election Code 255.003 [See CPAB regarding use of the internal mail system for political advertising.]
"Political advertising" means a communication supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination or election to a public office or office of a political party, a political party, a public officer, or a measure that:
- In return for consideration, is published in a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical or is broadcast by radio or television;
- Appears in a pamphlet, circular, flier, billboard or other sign, bumper sticker, or similar form of written communication; or
- Appears on an internet website.
Election Code 251.001(16); 1 TAC 20.1(11)(A)
"Political advertising" does not include an individual communication made by email but does include mass emails involving an expenditure of funds beyond the basic cost of hardware, messaging software, and bandwidth. 1 TAC 20.1(11)(B)
A newsletter of a public officer of a district is not political advertising if:
- It includes no more than two pictures of a public officer per page and if the total amount of area covered by the pictures is no more than 20 percent of the page on which the pictures appear;
- It includes no more than eight personally phrased references on a page that is 8 1/2" x 11" or larger, with a reasonable reduction in the number of such personally phrased references in pages smaller than 8 1/2" x 11"; and
- When viewed as a whole and in the proper context:
- Is informational rather than self-promotional;
- Does not advocate passage or defeat of a measure; and
- Does not support or oppose a candidate for nomination or election to a public office or office of political party, a political party, or a public officer.
1 TAC 26.2
A person may not knowingly cause to be published, distributed, or broadcast political advertising containing express advocacy that does not indicate in the advertising:
- That it is political advertising; and
- The full name of the:
- Person who paid for the political advertising;
- Political committee authorizing the political advertising; or
- Candidate or specific-purpose committee supporting the candidate, if the political advertising is authorized by the candidate.
Political advertising that is authorized by a candidate, an agent of a candidate, or a political committee filing reports under Election Code Title 15 shall be deemed to contain express advocacy.
These requirements do not apply to tickets or invitations to political fundraising events; campaign buttons, pins, hats, or similar campaign materials; or circulars or flyers that cost in the aggregate less than $500 to publish and distribute.
Election Code 255.001(a), (b), (d)
A required disclosure statement must contain the words "political advertising" or any recognizable abbreviation and comply with 1 Administrative Code 26.1. 1 TAC 26.1
Note: For specific information regarding political advertising and campaign communications by candidates, including offenses, see Election Code 255.001–.006. For information regarding political signs, see Election Code Chapter 259.
A candidate may not take affirmative action to influence a district employee or current trustee regarding the appointment, reappointment, confirmation of the appointment or reappointment, employment, reemployment, change in status, compensation, or dismissal of another individual related to the candidate within a prohibited degree of relationship under the nepotism law. [See DBE] This prohibition does not apply to a candidate's actions taken regarding a bona fide class or category of employees or prospective employees. Gov't Code 573.042