“Thomas Ratliff’s Brazen Gall”

Donna Garner – It takes brazen gall for a person to do what Thomas Ratliff is doing. Thomas Ratliff is currently under investigation by the Texas Attorney General’s office because Ratliff was elected to the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) even though the Texas Education Code says clearly that a person who is a registered lobbyist is not eligible to serve on the SBOE.

Texas Education Code:  Subchapter A, Section 7.103 (c):

(c)  A person who is required to register as a lobbyist under Chapter 305, Government Code, by virtue of the person’s activities for compensation in or on behalf of a profession, business, or association related to the operation of the board, may not serve as a member of the board or act as the general counsel to the board.


Here is SBOE Chair Gail Lowe’s 3.2.11 letter to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott requesting an opinion on the SBOE-registered lobbyist law:



Thomas Ratliff has been a registered lobbyist with the Texas Ethics Commission since 1998.  One of his most lucrative clients is Microsoft earning him between $25,000 – $50,000 each year since 1998. 

Please go to the bottom of this e-mail where I have posted the link to my 2.17.11 article entitled “Ratliff: Attempting to Hoodwink the Public.” In this article, I have copied information from the Texas Ethics Commission which details some of Thomas Ratliff’s education-related clients and the tens of thousands of dollars he has made from each.     


The SBOE is the caretaker of the Permanent School Fund (PSF).  On May 30, 2010, Microsoft was one of the PSF’s top five stocks at $157.16 million.

The SBOE makes very important decisions over all Texas public school children, educators, and the Permanent School Fund (PSF) that pays for Texas students’ textbooks. 

Below is the link to Ratliff’s bio posted on the Texas Education Agency’s website where he lists himself as a “governmental relations consultant and lobbyist.”


Thomas Ratliff also lobbies members of the Texas Legislature.  He has the power of the purse because undoubtedly he is the one who advises his lucrative clients to which Texas Legislators to give campaign contributions.  Is it any wonder that legislators are so ready to welcome Ratliff into their inner circle?

Thomas Ratliff may be the only elected official in Texas who was a registered, full-time professional lobbyist before running for state office and remains a full-time registered professional lobbyist after being elected to the SBOE. 


The people of Texas knew what they were doing when they set up the Texas Education Code to keep the SBOE fiercely independent of lobbyists and outside vested interests.  SBOE members receive no remuneration of any kind, have no paid staffs, and have no paid office equipment or cell phones.   

This fierce independence from lobbyists and outside interests was maintained by the SBOE until Thomas Ratliff came along as a candidate in 2010. 

Ratliff ignored the Texas Education Code, blatantly raised money for his campaign from other wealthy lobbyists and special interest groups, and beat out conservative Don McLeroy for the position.



Fact:  Ratliff has been on the SBOE for exactly ONE meeting (January 2011), yet he has cast himself as an authority on the SBOE — the “go to” man for Texas Legislators, the person to help direct the configurations of the SBOE redistricting maps for 2012 (all seats will be up for grabs), the person with whom NAACP and LULAC collude to carry out their  lawsuit over the Social Studies standards, and the person the liberal news media loves to quote.  One single SBOE meeting vs. years of service on the SBOE by the other experienced members – Thomas Ratliff is no authority on the SBOE!

Question:  When Thomas Ratliff testified before the Senate Education Committee, the Sunset Review Committee, and the Redistricting Committee, did he do so as a “one-meeting” member of the SBOE or as a registered, professional lobbyist?  

Question:  When Ratliff testified before the Senate Education Committee on 3.29.11 about SB 6 – HB 6 which he stated he just “loves,” why did he not mention the fact that he is a registered lobbyist for Microsoft?  SB 6 – HB 6 contain language that will transform the payout of the Permanent School Fund, and Microsoft will derive huge benefits from these changes.   

Question:  When Ratliff speaks at public meetings, does he represent himself as an SBOE member or as a professional, registered lobbyist?  I believe the audience would want to know that information.

Question:  How loudly would the liberal media howl if any of the conservative SBOE members:

  • Lived in Austin during the entire legislative session;


  • Made millions as registered lobbyists wining and dining wealthy clients who invest in education-related products that come before the SBOE for consideration;


  • Were “useless members” of the committee on the Permanent School Fund (January 2011) because they had to recuse themselves from three separate votes because of conflict of interest problems with lobbying clients?


Question:  I wonder how long it would take for a good reporter to point out the fact that even if Thomas Ratliff recuses himself from votes on the SBOE, this still would not resolve conflict of interest problems because of (1) possible backroom deals he might be making and (2) confidential information that he might be sharing with his clients.  


When I consider Texas State Board of Education members, I always look at motive for their service.  Do they wish to serve or be served?

Based upon Thomas Ratliff’s history, comments made at the January 2011 SBOE meeting, testimony given at the Senate Education Committee, and manipulative actions exhibited at the House Redistricting Committee on 4.2.11 in which he purportedly talked the members into changing up many of the SBOE members’ 2012 districts to harm conservative members’ chances of being elected, I believe it is correct to say that Thomas Ratliff is not on the SBOE to serve the public school students and educators of this state.  


SBOE members have larger districts with more constituents than most Texas legislators.  These Board members typically give up three to four days for each SBOE meeting and attend countless state and local functions – all on their own time. This is not to mention the hours they spend poring over long documents and reports, answering constituents’ questions, and being accessible by phone, fax, and e-mail 24/7.  (They received over 6,000 e-mails just on the Social Studies standards alone.)


While Thomas was being wined and dined in the vaulted halls of the Gates’ empire and making a fortune as a well-heeled lobbyist, eight of the Texas State Board of Education members in particular were leading the efforts for 1 ½ years to adopt new Social Studies standards for the state of Texas. 

The Board held numerous public hearings that lasted into the wee hours with hundreds of people testifying.  The eight SBOE leaders slaved over revision after revision, amendment after amendment, word after word, list after list to make sure that the final version (passed in May 2010) is the most fact-based and patriotic Social Studies standards (TEKS) in the United States today.

(The SBOE had gone through a similar, grueling process to adopt new English / Language Arts / Reading standards in May 2008 and new Science standards in March 2009.  New Math standards are presently in the pipeline.) 

Through thick and thin, the eight SBOE leaders battled the liberal news media, national and state teachers’ organizations and unions, and multicultural mouthpieces (e.g., LULAC, NAACP). 

These eight SBOE members made sure that our Texas students K – 12 receive a balanced view based upon unbiased facts about America’s exceptionalism, our Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the history of Texas, and the history of countries around the world.


While Thomas Ratliff was off doing whatever lucrative millionaire lobbyists do, the SBOE members were hard at work not only serving our state as unpaid volunteers but also trying to manage their own family responsibilities:   

  • Don McLeroy was working full time as a family dentist, serving as a lay leader in his church, and teaching a fourth-grade Sunday school class;


  • Terri Leo was struggling to make ends meet as a public school educator working with disabled children;


  • Cynthia Dunbar was responsible for her children and also teaching a course on Constitutional law long distance;


  • Barbara Cargill was taking care of three sons and conducting science camps for eager children;


  • Ken Mercer was working full-time to provide a living for his family while being involved in protecting our country as a member of the Governor’s Homeland Security Infrastructure Counsel;


  • David Bradley was carefully monitoring the Permanent School Fund so that our Texas school children would have money from the state to pay for their textbooks;


  • Pat Hardy was working as a counselor in the public schools;


  • Gail Lowe was helping her husband to publish their small-town newspaper.  

Five “minority” members of the SBOE voted against the Social Studies standards in 2010 — all Democrats.  These people were Mary Helen Berlanga, Lawrence Allen, Rene Nunez, Rick Agosto, and Mavis Knight.


The purpose of this article is to make sure that the public understands the backstory on Thomas Ratliff in spite of what the liberal news media reports.

My purpose is also to alert the public to the new SBOE 2012 redistricting map that passed out of the House Redistricting Committee late in the afternoon on 4.2.11. (You may look up the plan for yourself at http://gis1.tlc.state.tx.us/ and choose “base plan” and then CSHB 600.) 

Coincidentally enough, the 4.2.11 House Redistricting Committee meeting was held in the Supreme Court Building where there is no videostreaming available to document the proceedings. 

SBOE Redistricting Map CSHB 600, most likely heavily influenced by Thomas Ratliff’s input, will make it hard-to-impossible for conservatives to be elected to the SBOE in 2012 when every seat will be up for grabs.

The SBOE redistricting map was sent to the Senate Redistricting Committee late 4.2.11 where hopefully the members will realize how unfair the map is and will work to fix its obvious problems. 

If the Senate makes any changes to CSHB 600, then the SBOE redistricting map will be sent back to the House where a conference committee will decide on the final version.  Members of that conference committee will be appointed by Speaker Joe Straus.


If you care about the future of our public school children and want to make sure that conservative, back-to-the-basics SBOE members continue to be elected in 2012, please contact your Texas Legislators and express your views. 

If you do not choose to get involved, then people such as Thomas Ratliff will continue to hold sway over the Texas legislators with whom he has established lobbying relationships through the years. 


Please read the new Social Studies standards for yourself:  


(Note: To read the new Social Studies TEKS, be sure to read those that are labeled “Beginning with school year 2011-2012.”)

Here are three links to Q&A interviews with Texas State Board of Education members after the new Social Studies standards were passed and a link to the article I wrote as I journaled the final proceedings:






3.25.11 – “Who’s Behind This Mounting Pressure?” http://americansforprosperity.org/032011-who-behind-attacks-sboe#ixzz1HKrdHyQL

3.15.11 — “Thomas Ratliff’s False Sense of Security” by Donna Garner


2.17.11:  “Ratliff: Attempting to Hoodwink the Public”



  1. Donna Garner

    The Texas Attorney General’s office has not cleared Thomas Ratliff’s name. The AG has six months in which to issue his opinion, and the request from the Texas State Board of Education/Texas Education Agency for the opinion was not sent to the AG’s office until 3.2.11.

    • LyingLyingDonna

      Donna Garner is a crazy bat who has been WIDELY discredited in Austin as well as education circles. Her “journalistic” integrity can be categorized as questionable at best. Get a real story Donna–the AG has cleared Ratliff’s name. HE called the investigation. HE clarified his eligibility to serve on the board. HE is a good man that you know NOTHING about. Please quit pandering your lies and misinformation

    • Donna Garner

      As God is my witness, I have no power to delete or change anything on EducationNews.org. I am not the webmaster; and just as any other writer, I send in my articles for consideration to be published.

      The only response to “Lying, Lying Donna” to which I have bothered to reply is my statement posted on April 7, 2011, saying that Thomas Ratliff has not been cleared by the Texas Attorney General’s office. That is still an ongoing investigation.


      Dear Texans, if you want to submit your comments about lobbyist Thomas Ratliff to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott after reading “Thomas Ratliff’s Brazen Gall,” please feel free to do so. I believe he needs to know how strongly we Texans feel about the Rule of Law.

      I submitted my concerns to this e-mail address (greg.abbott@oag.state.tx.us). I asked for a receipt for my comments and received the receipt from this e-mail address: public.information@oag.state.tx.us.

      Please be sure to put the following file number in the subject line of your e-mail and also at the top of your letter: File #ML 4667511, I. D. #46675 — Thomas Ratliff. — Donna Garner

      • LyingLyingDonna

        If not you, then your webmaster is censoring and altering an open forum. Other publications which categorize themselves as a “leading world news source” would never invoke such censorship.

        Editor’s noe: Everyone is being turned off by your spamming comments. Make your point and move on otherwise your spams will be deleted.

  2. LyingLyingDonna

    Point being: You cannot trial this man by fire in the court of public opinion. The AG will decide (mind you–Ratliff called the investigation ON HIMSELF). Your grossly bias statements such as “While Thomas was being wined and dined in the vaulted halls of the Gates’ empire and making a fortune as a well-heeled lobbyist” speak to your lack of journalistic integrity and general ignorance.

    You have no examples of ANY of these claims you make. All that it sounds like is that you have an obsession to smear this man’s name–a quality that no person should have who wishes to call themselves a respected journalist.

  3. LyingLyingDonna

    I apologize, but the post I refer to is has permanently been placed at the bottom of this feed.

  4. LyingLyingDonna


Donna Garner: #2 on the worst blogger liars list

  5. LyingLyingDonna


“Garner’s attacks have been particularly misleading. In fact, PolitiFact Texas recently rated one particular Garner claim as a “Pants on Fire” lie.”



  6. LyingLyingDonna


“In defense, Texas Eagle Forum’s Pat Carlson said her group got the claim about Straus from Donna Garner. Seriously? Garner, you will recall, is a right-wing gadfly from the Waco area who has played a prominent role in helping the State Board of Education politicize public school classrooms the last four years. During the state board’s debate over science curriculum standards two years ago, for example, Garner promoted the claim that Jeffrey Dahmer had been a serial murderer because he “believed in evolution.” Yet Texas Eagle Forum seems to think an extremist like Garner is a reliable source of information.



  7. LyingLyingDonna


“It must be a very strange experience to have a brain that functions like Donna Garner’s. I wonder if she realizes how much of a hypocritical liar she is. Her sort of thinking can fairly be classified as pathological. Yet it’s obvious that she thinks she’s doing the right thing. I just can’t get a handle on that. If I told lies like she does, I would feel very guilty about it.”



  8. LyingLyingDonna


“I can’t think of words to accurately describe the contents of an email sent out by a person named Donna Garner that attacks one of the largest and most respected anti-abortion groups in Texas. ”



  9. LyingLyingDonna


“Garner can argue that legislation would have changed the education code to align more with Planned Parenthood’s values than her own, but to say that it would have put the organization at the helm of sex education in public schools is an over-the-top claim.
We rate her statement as Pants on Fire.”


    • EducationViews.org

      Donna is always right on the mark.


    [...] http://www.educationnews.org/political/153052.html Email this post Tags: American International Group, Bill Gates, Microsoft Corporation, Mike Moses, Peyton Wolcott, Rainy Day Fund, T-Mobile USA, Texas Attorney General, Texas Legislature [...]

  11. Texas Freedom Network Trying To Stir up Trouble | Inside Scoop with Alice Linahan

    [...] read my 4.3.11 article entitled “Thomas Ratliff’s Brazen Gall” [...]

  12. candy toy

    You have no examples of ANY of these claims you make. All that it sounds like is that you have an obsession to smear this man’s name–a quality that no person should have who wishes to call themselves a respected journalist.

  13. Healthy Texan

    The AG is not investigating Thomas Ratliff nor has he ever been asked to investigate Thomas Ratliff. The AG was exploring whether or not a lobbyist could serve on the SBOE. The answer was a clear YES, so long as that SBOE member did not represent his/her clients in front of the SBOE.

    This woman is dishonest at best and obviously pulls things out of thin air to make her point. WHat is her point? She hates Thomas Ratliff.

  14. EducationViews.org

    You apparently haven’t read the AG report on this Thomas Ratliff. The AG did look into and ruled on his findings that are not favorable to Ratliff. Let’s see his daddy try and worm his way out of this. The guy is a paid lobbyist and should be on the board to begin with.

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April 5th, 2011

Donna Garner EducationNews Policy Commentator

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