Texas’ Office of the Attorney General will investigate voter fraud allegations depicted in a Project Veritas video circulating social media.
The footage shows a purported San Antonio political consultant, Raquel Rodriguez, engaging in and describing her fraudulent voter practices.
In one instance, she pressures a voter to change their vote from Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to his Democratic opponent MJ Hegar.
Rodriguez also refers to a “candidate” for whom she is working in San Antonio and at one point identifies him as Mauro Garza, the Republican candidate running against Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20). In the video, an image is shown by Rodriguez on her phone of a man, identified as Tommy Acosta, wearing a Garza campaign t-shirt with two voters Rodriguez says she consolidated.
Rodriguez also discloses her “ballot harvesting” efforts in the video — the process by which an individual collects mail ballots, sometimes forging or changing the voter’s marks, and sends them into the appropriate elections office.
Under Texas law, the only person permitted to handle a ballot is the voter to which it is provided or a relative of that voter.
According to Rodriguez in the video, she visits mail ballot voters and coaxes them to vote for her preferred candidates, showing them an already filled out sample ballot.
Rodriguez says that she distributes the collected ballots at various post offices in order not to draw suspicion. By her estimation, she has done so with 1,800 ballots and in total is “bringing at least 7,000 votes to the polls.”
Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a release, “What’s shown in the video is shocking and should alarm all Texans who care about election integrity. We are aggressively investigating the serious allegations and potential crimes that Project Veritas’s documentary audio and video recordings shed light on today.”
Since the office’s Election Integrity Unit was founded in 2004, 457 instances of voter fraud have been successfully prosecuted.
“Election integrity has been a top priority of mine since I first took office in 2015. Anyone who attempts to defraud the people of Texas, deprive them of their vote, or undermine the integrity of elections will be brought to justice and penalized to the fullest extent of the law,” Paxton concluded.
Another person involved in the scheme is, allegedly, Joanne Ramon. According to Rodriguez, Ramon directs Rodriguez in her ballot chasing efforts. Rodriguez also says that Ramon once fraudulently cast ballots for voters who were deceased in a judicial race — although the details of that action within the video are absent.
At various points, Rodriguez outright states what she’s doing violates state law. While working for a Republican candidate, Rodriguez says she is urging voters to cast their ballots for Democrats Joe Biden and M.J. Hegar along with her candidate, Garza.
At one point, Rodriguez sits on a voter’s porch and helps her fill out the ballot, eventually walking the elderly woman through changing her vote from Cornyn to Hegar. Raising suspicion, she at one point calls the voter “mom,” but further stipulates she’s done this for more than one person.
If that voter is her mother, handling the ballot would be legal under state law.
Rodriguez then hands the woman a gift, allegedly for voting, constituting another violation of state law.
According to Rodriguez, Garza gave her $2,500 to purchase the gifts she trades for filled out ballots. Neither Rodriguez nor Acosta show up on Garza’s campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission.
“What I do, picking up those ballots, when [the undercover Project Veritas journalist] was with me,” Rodriguez says in the video, “that’s illegal. I could go to jail.”
The consultant has purportedly looped a handful of other people into her ring designed to “coach” voters, even signing disability affidavits with voters that allow her employees to accompany those electors into the booth.
Project Veritas is an undercover journalism organization that has exposed Planned Parenthood activities and statements by Democratic campaign staffers.
The Texan received the following comment from Garza on the video and allegations:
“A former Mauro Garza campaign volunteer was recorded alleging voter fraud in our local elections. I welcome any investigation and accountability to expose these outlandish allegations.
I do not endorse or support any wrongdoing or voter fraud. If any member of my campaign team, paid or volunteer, engages in or gives the perception of any negligent behavior or threatens the integrity of voter registration or engages in voter fraud, they will be immediately fired and turned over to the County elections office and law enforcement. The volunteer in the investigative video no longer serves on my campaign. I hope that this story encourages the news media and legal authorities to investigate all evidence of voter fraud and suppression as it has been a rampant problem for decades in South Texas. I have been a long-time advocate for voter integrity and will continue my fight to make our voices as citizens heard, fairly and honestly.
All I can ask for is patience from our supporters and a thorough investigation to secure the integrity of our elections.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comment from Mauro Garza, Republican candidate for the 20th Congressional District.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.