Former police captain dismissed from the Houston Police Dept. 17 years ago, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on Tuesday
Mark Anthony Aguirre held up a repairman over ‘fake ballots’ as one of 20 investigators paid to overturn the election by controversial Texas GOP megadonor, Steven Hotze
While pursuing unfounded reports of voter fraud on behalf of right wing activists, Aguirre ran into the repairman’s truck and pulled a gun on him, On Oct 19
Aguirre, 63, was doing surveillance on an air con repairman he thought was behind a voting fraud operation in Harris County, Texas
Aguirre claimed the repairman was hiding 750,000 fake ballots in his vehicle, but a search was conducted and no fraudulent ballots were found
Aguirre was being paid $266,400 by the Liberty Center for God and Country to investigate voter fraud in the lead up to the election
Currently held in prison on a $30,000 bond, if convicted, he faces up to 20 years behind bars
Hotze, CEO of the Liberty Center, was a key member of a group of Republicans that tried and failed get 127,000 early votes cast at drive-thru polling stations thrown out in Harris County
A former Houston Police Department Captain who is accused of pulling a gun on a repairman over fake ballot allegations was one of 20 investigators hired to overturn the election by controversial ultra-right activist Steven Hotze who previously called for George Floyd protesters to be shot.
Mark Aguirre was working on behalf of the powerful Republican megadonor’s group to investigate unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud when, in October, he allegedly pulled a gun on a man described by the Harris County district attorney’s office as an “innocent and ordinary” air conditioner repairman.
Ex-cop Mark Anthony Aguirre, 63, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on Tuesday – almost two months after the incident where he pointed a firearm at an air conditioning technician he believed was engaged in a mass voting fraud operation.
Aguirre told investigators that he and a team Aguirre tailed the unidentified workman for four days as part of a plot to find evidence to support a false conspiracy theory that widespread voter fraud was going on in Harris County, Texas.
Aguirre, who was fired from the HPD 17 years ago, was allegedly paid $266,400 by prominent Republican power-broker Hotze through his group the Liberty Center For God and County to carry out the investigation.
Hotze, CEO of the group and a talk-radio host, has a long history of pushing a far-right agenda in Texas. He has been cited on an arrest warrant used in a lawsuit seeking to halt early voting, and it appears to have enlisted Aguirre’s help in yet another effort to toss American votes.
In September, the megadonor filed a suit with the Texas Supreme Court to shorten the early voting period and limit drop-off locations for absentee ballots in Harris County.
The voting extensions had been put in place in the state’s largest Democrat county to enable voters to cast their ballots safely during the pandemic.
In this suit, which ultimately failed, Aguirre had provided an affidavit saying he was involved in a probe into a ‘wide-ranging and fraudulent ballot harvesting scheme’, the Texas Tribune reported.
Hotze also hit headlines back in July when The Texas Tribune obtained a voicemail he left for Texas Governor Greg Abbott calling for the National Guard to ‘shoot to kill the son of a b**ches’ protesting Floyd’s death and demanding racial justice.
Hotze is also a fierce opponent of same-sex marriage and was a staunch supporter of the controversial ‘bathroom bill’, which aimed to stop transgender people from using bathrooms that aligned with their gender identities.
He ran television ads and robocalls to drum up support for the bill, but it failed to pass.
It’s not the first time Hotze has pushed anti-LGBT sentiment and in 2016, his right-wing PAC Conservative Republicans of Texas was designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
More recently, Hotze has filed numerous lawsuits against the state of Texas fighting executive orders put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus.
In April he sued Abbott over his stay-at-home order and the next month sued to have the governor’s powers to implement executive orders taken away.
He later sued over the state’s mask mandate and contact tracing program.
In October, Hotze was a key member of a group of Republicans that tried and failed to sue to get 127,000 early votes cast at drive-thru polling stations thrown out in Harris County.
Jared Woodfill, a spokesperson and attorney for Hotze, told the Texas Tribune this week that Hotze was not directly involved in Aguirre’s investigation that led to the allegedly assault on an ‘innocent’ technician.
Hotze did not ‘direct or lead any of the investigations’ at the Liberty Center, Woodfill said.
Woodfill however, confirmed that the group had hired a company led by Aguirre to investigate voter fraud, with around 20 private investigators contracted to try to find evidence in Harris County and other parts Texas.
And he also admitted Hotze sent tips and information to the team of investigators to look into.
‘The [Liberty Center] employed the investigation team that looked into the allegations,’ he said.
On October 19, after four days spent tracking the technician with two other investigators, Aguirre allegedly trailed the technician in his SUV before deliberately slamming into the back of his truck, believing it was filled with 750,000 fake ballots.
After the collision, the man got out of the truck to speak with Aguirre, who then pulled out a gun.
He pointed a handgun at the technician and forced him to the ground, according to the affidavit.
The former police captain while pointing the gun at the technician’s head b called cops to the scene. Aguirre told responding officers he was a member of the Liberty Center.
Cops searched the technician’s truck and discovered no fraudulent ballots. The vehicle was instead filled with air condition parts and tools.
One of the Aguirre’s alleged accomplices is accused of stealing the technician’s truck before abandoning it. He pointed a handgun at the technician and forced him to the ground, according to the affidavit.
Prosecutors say the victim was ‘an innocent and ordinary air conditioner repairman.’
One of the other people with Aguirre allegedly stole the technician’s vehicle after searching it. Police later found the abandoned truck a few blocks away.
At the time, Aguirre did not tell police he had allegedly been paid $266,400 by the Liberty Center.
He later admitted he and other investigators had set up a ‘command post’ at a Marriott hotel in Pearland.
Days before the October 19 incident, Aguirre had also called Lt. Wayne Rubio at the Texas attorney general’s office, asking him to help with the investigation into fraudulent ballots, the Tribune reported.
Rubio declined and reported the call to police but Aguirre allegedly called back days later to say he had been in a car accident with someone he suspected of voter fraud.
On Tuesday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg released a statement regarding Aguirre’s charges, saying: ‘His alleged investigation was backward from the start – first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened.
‘He crossed the line from dirty politics to commission of a violent crime, and we are lucky no one was killed.’
Aguirre’s attorney, Terry Yates, has disputed the charge, calling it a ‘political prosecution.’
He denies Aguirre deliberately ran into the technician’s truck.
‘He [Aguirre] was working and investigating voter fraud, and there was an accident. A member of the car got out and rushed at him and that’s where the confrontation took place. It’s very different from what they’re citing in the affidavit,’ Yates claimed.
Aguirre has not commented on his connections with The Liberty Center For God and Country.
The Liberty Center describes it as an organization that ‘promotes and protects our God-given, unalienable Constitutional rights and liberties through publications, conferences and events’.
The center began investigating voter fraud in the run-up to the presidential election.
Aguirre was arrested by Houston police Tuesday and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony.
Currently held in prison on a $30,000 bond, if convicted, he faces up to 20 years behind bars.
According to KTRK, Aguirre was fired from the HPD in 2003 after a botched raid at a Houston Kmart parking lot in which nearly 300 people were arrested in a crackdown on illegal street racing.
Most of those who were arrested were not linked to street racing and the charges were dropped.