Rural GOP House lawmakers alarmed by 'fraudulent' letters promoting school vouchers

AUSTIN -- Rural Republican Texas House members are sounding the alarm after a significant number of them say they received letters promoting school vouchers from what at first appeared to be constituents but turned out to apparently be sent by someone in Austin. But the actual sender of the letters is a mystery.

The letters, described by members who received them as "fraudulent," included the names and addresses of constituents but were not signed. And even though constituents' addresses were used from places like Gatesville and Vernon, the envelopes had an Austin postmark.

One of the letters sent to Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, included the name and address of former Rep. Rick Hardcastle, who told Quorum Report that the tactic represents "a new low."

Hardcastle said Rep. Springer contacted him after receiving the letter with Hardcastle's name on it. Hardcastle was taken aback that someone would impersonate him and completely misrepresent his opinion.

"I'm not a voucher guy and everybody knows I'm not a voucher guy," Hardcastle said.

The letters – thousands of which were sent to members – argue this session's version of school vouchers known as "education savings accounts" would "allow us to preserve funding for our schools, provide families with the freedom to make their own education decisions – all at no additional cost to the state of Texas."

After reading that argument made on his behalf without his permission, Hardcastle said "We've gone to complete new lows in public campaigns."

The full story can be found in the Quorum Report. Copyright 2017, Harvey Kronberg,, All rights are reserved. This story is presented as part of the Houston Chronicle's collaboration with Quorum Report. For inside information on Texas politics and government and to sign up for real-time updates, go here.