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Activists Speak Out on Why Undercover Video Will Expose Corrupt Texas Politicians

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Published on: May 21, 2015

You probably remember Hannah Giles from the undercover video that she and Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe did, which targeted ACORN. Though the two are not corroborating on a soon to be released undercover video, Giles is working with her husband, Joseph Basel, in exposing the corruption in the Texas legislature. They’ve also taken the time to express why they are doing it.

The Houston Chronicle reported:

An Austin-based nonprofit with ties to activists arrested in the past for targeting legislators in other states has collected hundreds of hours of secretly recorded video footage of Texas lawmakers to use against them in the upcoming election cycle, a representative from the group confirmed Tuesday.

The undercover video campaign represents a new front by conservative groups to target moderate Republicans and tilt the Texas Legislature further to the right.

John Beria, spokesman for Austin-based nonprofit the American Phoenix Foundation, said the group has 16 staffers working on the project and has amassed more than 800 hours of covert footage of lawmakers, including “guys confessing to pretty serious criminal acts.”

The group intends to begin releasing the information in the next several weeks and months, a key time frame as the legislative session comes to an end and lawmakers begin to plot for the primary season.

“We’re going for the people who are notorious in some of their actions. And so the people who are doing the shady business deals and the people who are doing the nefarious things around town, those are the people we spend our time on,” Beria said.

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Lawmakers were not happy about it either. Several referred to the tactics used by the group as “harassment.

“It’s like they were almost stalking us,” said Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring.

However, Beria says something different.

“We wanted to send a team down to Austin that would document some of the moral failings and hypocrisy of some of the legislators and lobbyists — and Austin culture, in general,” Beria said. “Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, whatever — it doesn’t matter what label they wear. We just want to find the hypocrites.”

It seems that elected servants of the people don’t want to remain accountable to the people. Already, Texas Republican Senator Paul Bettencourt is trying to push through legislation that would outlaw one-party consent in undercover investigations. In other words, he wants to make what is currently lawful, illegal. Instead of allowing the truth to come out about corrupt politicians, he wants to criminalize those exposing the corruption. I wonder if Senator Bettencourt will make this law apply to policemen in Texas. I’m betting he won’t.

The Dallas Morning News reported:

Last week, Department of Public Safety officers stopped members of the “Phoenix” investigative team for questioning after receiving complaints by House members of harassment. No arrests were made. DPS spokesman Tom Vinger, asked about the incident, said, “DPS does not discuss security-related matters.”

Team members have stopped lawmakers in Capitol hallways to ask pointed questions, both about hot-button issues such as abortion and immigration but also in some cases about their sex lives. In one instance, an unidentified member of the team confronted a House lawmaker and his wife at an Austin restaurant, according to a senior Capitol aide.

In a recent interview with R. G. Ratcliffe of Texas Monthly, Giles and Basel said that they wanted to disrupt the narrative of the Texas legislature.

“One of the biggest things I’ve personally seen is little old ladies that organize and cheer-lead for certain politicians and they think, ‘Oh they are the greatest and they’re going to go to Texas and represent us,'” said Giles. “And then being in Austin and having people who’ve worked in the Capitol and keeping an ear to the ground, I tell people, ‘No, that politician is just not a good person. They’re not who you think they are.’ That person is in Austin partying, and first of all not a Christian like they think – which is fine; we don’t care – but it is just the hypocrisy of representing themselves one way to their constituents and then acting a totally different way, filing bills that aren’t consistent with things they’ve said they’d do.”

Basel added, “The party realignment has been fascinating…I grew up in Minnesota where JFK and FDR Democrats are still campaigning on that, and the voters are still voting for the Democrats because FDR saved the farm. It’s fascinating to look at Texas in that light. You have a number of good JFK Democrats who would be aghast at what the people they are voting for are doing up here, and you have a much larger number of the modern Republican coalition that would be aghast to see what their Republicans are doing once they get to office, policy-wise and otherwise.”

Apparently the American Phoenix Foundation has a pretty good expose of the corruption in Texas or there wouldn’t be the backlash that there is. I’m just betting this is going to be on par with the ACORN videos. What do you think?

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