Garland ISD trustee Scott Luna typically has a clear path to victory. Three times he's been up for election, three times his name has been the only one on the ballot.
Not this time. He has a challenger, 21-year-old Lawrence Billy Jones III, and now Luna's become embroiled in a minor scandal.
The scandal, as reported by The Dallas Morning News, is this: On February 28, the deadline for filing to run in the May school board election, Luna put in a call to associate Garland ISD Superintendent Gary Reeves (on leave over the district's H1-B visa scandal), who Jones counts as an advisor.
Jones released a recording of the conversation on Wednesday, saying it showed Luna trying to buy him out of the race. Here's the transcript, via the Morning News:
Scott Luna: I think you're the only one that can talk to him. If you call and tell him that you're going to support me that's going to take the wind out of his sails.
Gary Reeves: I'll call him this afternoon, Scott, and see what he says. I didn't know if he was going to run or not.
Luna: Well, he is. He's filed against me. He only has until 5 o'clock to go and change.
Luna: And I know some people that'll give him some money and you know probably the same people I'm talking about, if he wants to try and get in on the other one. (Note: Garland ISD trustees are elected at large) So I'm in your corner. I hope you know that.
Reeves: Scott, aren't there already three people running in that other race?
(They discuss the three candidates for Place 4).
Luna: If you can call him, he can go change between now and 5 o'clock. But after 5 o'clock he can't change.
Reeves: It's locked in then.
Luna: It's locked in then.
Reeves: All right. I'll do it.
Luna: See if you can help me.
Luna: You're the only hope.
Luna says the exchange was innocent, a piece of friendly advice that Jones would have a better shot in another race rather than an attempt to buy off a rival. A bit of a stretch, but maybe.
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There's another question worth asking, though: Why was Reeves recording the conversation in the first place?
For that, it's worth knowing a bit of context the Morning News for some reason leaves out. Jones has done this before. You probably remember him as the guy who punked local Obamacare navigators to great effect as part of conservative provocateur James O'Keefe's Project Veritas sting, going undercover and recording the navigators encouraging him to lie on his healthcare application.
Clearly, Jones learned the political value of the "gotcha" moment. It's also possible that he picked up O'Keefe's famously misleading editing techniques.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.