Grantee uncovers network behind right-wing takeover of Texas school boards; Texas Observer cover story prompts state legislator to call for reform

The Texas Observer did a deep dive into money and key actors behind right-wing takeovers of local school boards in the state. Reporter Steve Monacelli, with a grant and other support from the Fund, scoured campaign finance reports to find that dozens of ultraconservative school board candidates were backed by political action committees that employ many of the same conservative political consultants. The story revealed that a network of partisan PACs and consultants backed dozens of ultraconservative candidates who took over several Texas school boards and then forced hard-right policy turns. Monacelli also unearthed details of a network of major funders and political operatives, including conservative billionaires who don’t live in the districts targeted, but are fervent supporters of school privatization. The story prompted State Rep. Erin Zweiner to call for greater transparency and easier access to campaign finance reports.