Aug 29, 2022 - News

A Christian cell phone company plans to take over Texas school boards

People walking by a display booth featuring Trump's head on Rambo's body
A Patriot Mobile booth at CPAC this year. Photo: Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Patriot Mobile, a North Texas-based cell phone service reseller that markets itself as "America's only Christian conservative wireless provider" was the driving financial force behind the election of 11 new school board members in four suburban North Texas districts.

Driving the news: Patriot Mobile helped elect the majority of members in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, which recently passed a controversial new set of conservative policies dubbed "Don't Say Trans."

Why it matters: The policies, which include prohibitions on teachers discussing anything related to critical race theory or "gender fluidity," are part of a major push from both Patriot Mobile's political arm — Patriot Mobile Action — and the state GOP.

  • "Ultimately we want to expand to other counties, other states and be in every state across the nation," Leigh Wambsganss, executive director of Patriot Mobile Action and vice president of government and media affairs at Patriot Mobile, told conservative talk show host Mark Davis earlier this summer.

The big picture: Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has told conservatives that to "save the nation," they need to target school boards, repeatedly spotlighting Patriot Mobile.

  • "The school boards are the key that picks the lock," Bannon said during an interview with Patriot Mobile's president, Glenn Story, at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas earlier this month, according to NBC News.

Between the lines: School districts are the front line in the political battle for Texas. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke has rooted his campaign on school funding and safety, while Gov. Greg Abbott has made fears of conservative parents a cornerstone of his bid for re-election.

What happened: Earlier this year, Patriot Mobile Action hired two national GOP consulting firms — Vanguard Field Strategies and Axiom Strategies — to help target school board races in the suburbs of Tarrant County, the largest conservative county in the country.

  • The PAC spent more than $600,000 backing 11 school board candidates running in Southlake, Grapevine-Colleyville, Keller and Mansfield — all of whom won their races.
  • The group sent out thousands of political mailers warning that sitting school board members were endangering students with "woke" ideologies. One ad featured a photo of a child and the words, "They're not after you, they're after me."

What we're watching: Last week the Republican Party of Texas made a fundraising appeal praising GCISD's new policies, saying the party is "working to bring this conservative policy" to every school district in the state.

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