School district slapped for using taxpayer dollars to sway local voters

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – School boards frequently make their opinions known to voters when it comes to tax increases, school choice and other issues. But typically they’re smart enough to word things in such a way to avoid violating campaign finance laws.

voteyesstarFor example, they don’t expressly say how bad school vouchers are, they just talk about all the supposed negative effects. They carefully lead the reader into making the desired conclusion.

The Traverse City Area Public Schools district last November dropped all nuance and expressly advocated that taxpayers pass a school bond proposal.

Via Interlochen Public Radio:

Traverse City Area Public Schools ran afoul of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act during the last election, according to a letter issued Thursday by the Secretary of State. It says a district mailer advocated a “yes” vote for a school bond proposal. The district is not allowed to do that with taxpayer funds and other resources.

“We didn’t intend to violate the act or mislead folks and I think I need to apologize to Mr. Gillman, to our parents and our staff and community for any confusion the mailer caused,” says TCAPS Superintendent Steve Cousins.

Former Grand Traverse County Commissioner Jason Gillman filed the complaint. He also has a separate lawsuit pending over an alleged open meetings violation by the district.

The district wanted a “yes” vote but voters ultimately said “no.” The Secretary of State determined the school district violated the Campaign Finance Act and the district superintendent apologized. Any further punishment is unlikely.


Originally posted at

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  1. interestedobserver2 says

    Oh. He apologized. Well then. It’s all better. (What about giving back to the taxpayers an equal amount of THEIR hard-earned money that was spent by this con man on an attempt to steal even MORE of their hard-earned money? That would seem to be an appropriate response. Especially if it came out of the douchebag’s personal funds….)

  2. Don Bahn says

    liberals all TAX spend, Tax some more spend some more, Tax spend, Tax line their friends pockets spend some more.

    1. notislam says

      That’s how it is in CA —Some cities more than others. Look at the sneek-gov. Jerry Brown as he accepted THE COMMON CORE money (big bucks) to promore the nazi-agenda of the Arabs.
      Then measure C and more taxes from the local school board. In CA it is TAX-TAX-TAX just like the Feds.

  3. egalicki says

    I wonder what would happen if a republican, a conservative, or I violated this law.

  4. rs1123 says

    Typical of the left – break the law, ignore the rules, then piously say ‘oops’ and nothing comes of it. Whether it’s this, or vote fraud, or a hundred other violations of law, they do as they please and then say ‘we’re sorry’ and that’s usually the end of it – til they do something else later on.

  5. TruthorConsequences says

    In Louisiana, a public school district, put a huge tax increase on the ballot. They did not put it on the ballot during the presidential election or during any time state-wide or national offices were up for vote. Rather, they put it on the ballot during an “off election” in which on average only 13 percent of voters vote. To get the word out in a small town and rural parish, the school board sent emails (on the taxpayers money on taxpayer paid computers and systems) to school board employees and their families stressing how important it was to vote for their futures and the future of the school system.

    The vote was for over $50 million in new taxes. This election was not advertised widely, but the school system employees knew about it, as did their families. We found out about the election the day of the election because we passed by the polling place and saw the activity there and inquired. We voted against the new taxes. We called family members and they rushed over to vote. Less than 10% of registered voters actually voted in this election. School board and system employees passed the vote.
    No one was the wiser but we ourselves and one political science professor at a nearby college.

    In the New Orleans area a vote was held to continue tolls/taxes on a local bridge. During the previous years while the toll was on the bridge, little money was used from the toll for the bridge, but it was taken and spent elsewhere. Fear tactics were used that lights would disappear from the bridge, or law enforcement would not be there, or upkeep would not be there, but all of that was being taken over by the state of Louisiana and no longer in the hands of local politicians or government. All the fear mongering over the bridge were lies.

    Only because of some irregularities in voting with ballots did a judge disallow the toll being placed on the bridge for another 20 years. The Democrat administration (New Orleans has always had a Democrat administration, hasn’t it?) said they would be accountable for the future toll of 25 million, though they failed miserably over the past twenty years. Vote in another week or so. Maybe this time, voters will have enough information and will vote down a toll/tax because more voters may actually vote.

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