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Investigation requested into voucher astroturfing

From the Quorum Report:

Rep. Gina Hinojosa

Following a criminal complaint by a GOP former lawmaker, an Austin representative has asked the Travis County District Attorney’s Office to look a letter-writing campaign that has deeply troubled rural Republicans in the Texas House who are opposed to school vouchers.

In a letter obtained by Quorum Report this evening, Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, told prosecutors that she’s heard from many of her Republican colleagues who cannot believe the way in which many of their constituents’ names were used.

As QR readers who have followed this are aware, rural Republicans from East Texas to West Texas have received about 17,000 letters orchestrated by a group called Texans for Education Opportunity. The group claimed credit for the letter campaign but has said everything was done properly.

The problem, though, is that many of those letters utilized the names of people who are opposed to school vouchers in any form and, in fact, some of them have raised concerns about whether their identities were stolen for this campaign.

Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, has said he thinks lawmakers are being “defrauded” by these letters. One of the letters Seliger received, but the way, was sent in the name of someone who had died months before the letter was sent.

“I am writing to ask you and your office to immediately open an investigation into a massive letter writing campaign that appears to be fraudulent,” Rep. Hinojosa wrote to the Travis County DA Margaret Moore.

See here for some background, and here for a copy of the letter. Rep. Hinojosa is the second person to ask a DA to investigate this, following former Rep. Rick Hardacstle, who was one of the people claimed to be a voucher supporter by this phony campaign. I Am Not A Lawyer so I have no opinion as to whether the civil code or the criminal code would be the more appropriate remedy for this, but it’s definitely fraud of some form, and if my name had been on one of those faked letters I’d want someone in power to Do Something about it, too. We’ll see what happens.

UPDATE: Scott Braddock has more.

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One Comment

  1. matx says:

    Here is a link to the board of directors of Texans for Education Opportunity, which seems like a “grass roots” arm of the Koch brothers. So all these wealthy and/or connected Texans would certainly have the means to put together a mailing list of so-called supporters as they have their fingers in lots of local pies:

    http://txedopportunity.org/leadership/

    Stacy Hock, Chair, is a wealthy philanthropist involved in lots of boards and organizations, including Texas Public Policy Foundation, which is seems to have a relationship with “Project Veritas” – does the name James O’Keefe ring a bell – the guy who pretended to be a pimp during a “sting” operation of ACORN (along with Lila Rose) and was actually convicted when he gained illegal access to a U.S. Senator’s office? yeah, that tells you what you need to know about Project Veritas.

    Their Outreach Manager, Julia Moore “is a public policy activist and serves as the Outreach Manager for Texans for Education Opportunity. Previously, Ms. Moore worked in the Health Care Policy Center at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and assisted in the office of Representative Debbie (“Terror Babies”) Riddle during the 84th Legislative Session.”

    Phil Gramm is also on the board.

    “Amanda Covo is Texans for Education Opportunity’s organization director. She also serves as executive director of Texans First, a network of philanthropic angel investors promoting freedom and opportunity.

    She is a graduate of the Koch Institute’s Associate Program, a one-year nonprofit management school, in Washington, D.C.”