The Jefferson County District Attorney has been asked to investigate State Board of Education member David Bradley after two fundraisers for his reelection campaign featured a prominent political leader who also publishes instructional materials used in Texas public schools. The non-partisan Texas Freedom Network (TFN) said the actions of David Barton on Bradley’s behalf violated a provision of the Education Code that says “a person engaged in manufacturing, shipping, selling or advertising instructional materials commits an offense if the person makes or authorizes a political contribution to or takes part in, directly or indirectly, the campaign of any person seeking election to or serving on the board.”
Barton is head of a political advocacy group called WallBuilders, and co-author of an American history textbook, “Drive Thru America.” Various Texas school districts have also reported using materials published by WallBuilders, including the “American Government and Bible” video.
TFN President Kathy Miller said, “We shouldn’t have people who are involved in creating and selling instructional materials also raising money for candidates for a state board that decides which materials will be sold to schools.”
This latest embarrassment is another example of Bradley’s willingness to flaunt the law. In 2002, he was indicted for violating the Texas Open Meetings Act by meeting unofficially with two other SBOE members and three financial advisers during a period in which the board was hiring consultants for the multi-billion dollar Permanent School Fund. In that case, Bradley took a plea deal where the charge was dismissed after he took a course on the Texas Open Meetings Act.
Bradley was the leader of an extreme SBOE faction that voted for new social studies standards that even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute criticized as filled with “political distortions” of history and lacking in coherence and rigor. Among the most bizarre actions by the Bradley faction was a vote to remove Thomas Jefferson from the world history curriculum’s list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century. Their real issue with Jefferson was his letter to the Danbury Baptists were the phrase “separation between church and state” first appeared.
For years, Bradley did not even live in the SBOE district he represented, claiming his Beaumont insurance office as his residence when he in fact lived in a rural area near Buna. With no sense of irony, Bradley and his minions now excoriate his opponent in the GOP primary with the false claim she lives outside the district.
It’s not just religion and politics. In 2008, The Examiner reported that Cynthia Thornton, a former board member — and a fellow Republican — said Bradley bullied and threatened her, which caused her husband to ask then-Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley to tell Bradley to back off. He also asked that TEA begin posting armed security at state board meetings, which TEA did.
GOP primary voters will have a chance to end this embarrassment on May 29 by returning David Bradley to private life.