Project Veritas released videos from San Antonio, Texas, showing a “ballot chaser and harvester.” Raquel Rodriguez was filmed “helping” a San Antonio senior citizen change the vote on her ballot from Republican Senator John Cornyn to Democrat candidate Mary “MJ” Hegar, so that she votes a straight Democrat ticket. Rodriguez then hands the woman a gift, a shawl.
But the apparent voter fraud isn’t confined to one party. Rodriquez says she’s a “consultant” for House candidate Mauro E. Garza, a Republican who owns a gay nightclub in the city. She says in the video that Garza gave her $2,500 for gifts for voters and states, “I can honestly say I’m bringing at least – at least – 7,000 votes to the polls.”
Rodrigues said she was being paid $8,000 by the Garza campaign. When the video was released, Garza released a statement saying, “I do not endorse or support any wrongdoing or voter fraud,” and “The volunteer in the investigative video no longer serves on my campaign.”
Project Veritas is a “non-profit journalism enterprise” established by James O’Keefe in 2011. The group works undercover, as it “investigates and exposes corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions to achieve a more ethical and transparent society.”
A journalist for Project Veritas “paid $500 to accompany Rodriguez on her rounds to collect ballots,” recording audio and video of the process all the while.
Rodriguez said she harvests ballots and takes them to different post offices throughout the city. She said, “So, if ya’ll are my seniors, I’m literally picking you up. I’m going to your house; you’re doing your ballot. I go throughout the entire city. If I have a bunch of them, what I do if I have a bunch of them, I’ll take 20 [ballots] here, 30 [ballots] here, 40 [ballots] here.”
In addition to chasing down and harvesting ballots, she also hosts barbecue and beer parties “at a bar for her voters, some of them former inmates recruited by her colleague, Tommy Acosta.” She explained, “This coming Thursday at a bar, we’re going to feed 45 ex-felons that we registered because they’re going to all vote,” she said. People vote, then they get the food and drinks.
Rodriguez described some of the other gifts she gives seniors, as she helps them vote and collects ballots, “I do shawls. I do diabetic socks. I do wallets. I do rosaries. I do Loteria (lottery). Down here, Loteria’s big. Loteria’s big. Bingo’s big down here. I do Bingo markers.”
She has five others working for her, helping to get minority and gay-identified votes throughout the city. Some have worked with her for five years. “I have a black girl running the polls,” she said, “… Because we need the black vote and the gay vote.” Rodriguez is training two more people to help her enterprise.
If a voter goes to the polls, rather than mailing in a ballot, Rodriguez and friends are even ready to go with them into the voting booth, “All you’ve got to do is sign an affidavit. They need assistance, so we’re able to vote.” Those providing assistance show the voter a sample, filled-out ballot, indicating how their ballot should be marked.
In the video exposing the ballot chasing and harvesting, released Tuesday, October 27, O’Keefe points out, “In Texas, it’s illegal to ballot harvest, unless you’re someone’s relative. It’s also illegal to coerce someone to change their vote.”
Project Veritas Chief Legal Officer Jered Ede said Rodriguez and her confederates have come into conflict with federal and Texas election laws.
“In addition to the fact that Texas law does not permit harvesting non-family members’ ballots,” he said, “Texas law makes a separately punishable violation for Rodriguez to be paid to harvest ballots, and yet another violation to pay others to harvest ballots for her organization.”
Texas law also “bars suggesting to a voter by ‘word sign or gesture’ how the voter should vote while assisting the voter, punishable by up to one-year imprisonment,” Ede added.
In a second video and audio recording, released October 28, Rodriguez discussed what she charges for getting votes. The investigative reporter told her he was planning on replicating her activities, and she said, “I’ve got three Democrats; three Republicans and the rest are Democrats. So how much are we talking? Just so you’ll know when you sell, when you do things like this for votes, you’re talking between five to eight dollars per vote.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced in a press release that the Election Fraud Unit would investigate the voter fraud scheme. He said, “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.”
But with many votes already cast, Paxton said that the video “unfortunately casts a shadow of doubt” on elections in the state.
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Photo from Project Veritas
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