Judge stops investigation into Battleground Texas

CHRIS TOMLINSON, Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A state district judge has thrown out a complaint filed against the Democratic outreach group Battleground Texas that was based on a conservative filmmaker’s video, a special prosecutor said Monday.

Special prosecutor John Economidy, a Republican, told The Associated Press that he and fellow special prosecutor Christine Del Prado, a Democrat, determined that Battleground Texas did not violate state election law by transcribing phone numbers submitted on voter registration forms. San Antonio Judge Raymond Angelini signed the dismissal without comment on Friday, Economidy added.

The inquiry began after conservative activist James O’Keefe and his group, Project Veritas, made a video that purported to show Battleground Texas workers talking about transcribing telephone numbers from voter registration cards they’d collected. O’Keefe said in the video that taking phone numbers violated Texas law, and Republican leaders, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, called for a criminal investigation.

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Because Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Bexar County district attorney are running for re-election, the case was given to Economidy and Del Prado to investigate. The 18-page special prosecutor’s report found Battleground Texas’ activities were legal and in keeping with standard electioneering practices used by both political parties for decades.

“The Veritas video was little more than a canard and political disinformation,” the prosecutor’s report said. “The video was particularly unprofessional when it suggested that the actions of Battleground Texas were advocated by a Texas gubernatorial candidate and that the actions of a single volunteer deputy registrar may even involve private health data, which is not involved in the voter registration process.”

Angelini and Del Prado referred all questions to Economidy.

“We looked at the facts, we applied the law and the round object would not fit into the small square hole,” Economidy said. “The law is or it isn’t. It either fits or it doesn’t fit, and it didn’t fit one bit.”

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Ellis Brachman, spokesman for Battleground Texas, said the false accusations and complaints prove that Republicans fear his organization’s chances for success to boost Democratic turnout.

“As we’ve said all along, Battleground Texas volunteers are patriotically working to get more Texans involved in our democracy,” Brachman said. “Battleground Texas is going to keep working to make sure that all Texans will have their voices heard at the ballot box this November and for years to come.”

Neither O’Keefe nor Project Veritas responded to emails seeking comment.