- An ex-cop in Houston was charged Tuesday with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after being accused of taking part in a vigilante scheme to uncover voter fraud in Texas.
- The man, Mark Anthony Aguirre, is accused by police of assaulting an air-conditioning repair technician who he falsely believed was harvesting fraudulent ballots for Democrats.
- Prosecutors allege that the scheme was funded by a conservative group, the Liberty Center for God and Country.
- A fundraiser launched by the Liberty Center describes an effort similar to that alleged by prosecutors.
- "We are working with a group of private investigators who have uncovered this massive election fraud scheme," the fundraiser states.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
A former police captain in Texas has been arrested and accused of taking part in a violent scheme to expose voter fraud that prosecutors say culminated in an armed confrontation with an air-conditioning repairman falsely accused of harvesting ballots.
As Houston ABC affiliate KTRK reported, Mark Anthony Aguirre was arrested Tuesday and charged by the Harris County District Attorney's office with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
According to a police affidavit, Aguirre, a former member of the Houston Police Department, spent four days in October as part of a team surveilling the mobile home of a man they believed had 750,000 fake ballots and was "using Hispanic children to sign the ballots because the children's fingerprints would not appear in any databases." Aguirre intimated that the scheme was being funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, police said.
The surveillance culminated in an October 19 attack on the falsely accused, who at 5:30 in the morning "noticed the driver of a black SUV pull into his lane and almost strike his vehicle," police said. That SUV then rammed his vehicle, police allege, with Aguirre said to have pointed a gun at the driver, forcing him to the ground and planting a knee on his back.
Two other vehicles then pulled up, according to the affidavit, and another, unnamed defendant searched the truck, finding nothing. Indeed, police who arrived at the scene during the incident said the truck contained "equipment consistent with [the man's] occupation as an air conditioning repair technician."
According to the affidavit, police also searched the repairman's mobile home and shed, with his consent, finding "no evidence of voter fraud or ballot harvesting."
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, in a press release on Tuesday, said Aguirre confessed to being part of a larger group investigating right-wing claims of voter fraud. As part of this effort, bank records show Aguirre received more than $266,000 from a Houston-based group, the Liberty Center for God and Country, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the vast majority received a day after the October 19 attack.
"He crossed the line from dirty politics to commission of a violent crime and we are lucky no one was killed," Ogg said. "His alleged investigation was backward from the start – first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened."
The claims have not been tested in court, nor has Aguirre been convicted of any crime.
A fundraiser on GoFundMe, launched October 10 and still active hours after the news of Aguirre's arrest, shows that the Liberty Center raised just under $70,000 for an effort to uncover alleged voter fraud prior to the 2020 election.
"The socialist Democrat leadership in Harris County has developed a massive ballot by mail vote harvesting scheme to steal the general election," the organizer, Dr. Steven Hotze, states on the page. "We are working with a group of private investigators who have uncovered this massive election fraud scheme…. You can help us expose and stop this massive election fraud scheme by donating here."
GoFundMe removed the page after Business Insider contacted them and said the fundraiser violated its terms of service.
Hotze is an infamous right-wing activist and promoter of holistic medicine, described by The Texas Tribune as a "Houston GOP powerbroker." In July, Hotze urged Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to deploy the National Guard against Black Lives Matter protesters, asking that they be given orders "to shoot to kill if any of these son-of-a-bitch people start rioting… That's the only way you restore order. Kill 'em."
Hotze appears to no longer see Abbott as a political ally, having since launched another fundraiser aimed at underwriting legal challenges to the governor's COVID-19 public health orders. The Facebook page for the Liberty Center also calls for Abbot, a "tin pot dictator," to be "tarred and feathered."
Another post, in between discredited claims of voter fraud, calls for violence against leftists, who the group and its founder have previously conflated with Democratic officials. "Christians, there is no compromise between Christianity and Communism," it says. "The only good Communist is a dead Communist."
The Liberty Center did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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