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Longtime GOP political operative John Colyandro has been tapped to head a new organization that will aggressively push Texas lawmakers to approve education savings accounts, the latest controversial proposal in private "school choice" and a priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
The advocacy group Texans for Education Opportunity announced Colyandro's hiring in a press release Thursday morning as a key move in their push for legislation that will allow parents to send their children to private schools using tax money.
Now the executive director of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, Colyandro "easily rose to the top" of a large talent pool of prospective leaders, said Stacy Hock, TEO's board chair. "As we are moving into session, we found that John has been a trusted voice and a champion of smart policy in and around the capitol for decades now. As he started to engage from a board perspective, it became clear that his engagement became more and more active," she said.
Colyandro has had an up-and-down career in Texas politics. In 2004, he was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on charges of money laundering after serving as the director of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's political action committee. DeLay, Colyandro and aide Jim Ellis were accused of illegally funneling corporate contributions to GOP candidates in key 2002 Texas legislative races. DeLay was convicted in 2011, and the conviction was overturned in 2013 by the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals. Colyandro pleaded guilty to lesser misdemeanor charges, was hit with a fine and his record was expunged after a year.