- Mark Aguirre, a 63-year-old man accused of holding an air conditioner repairman at gunpoint in an attempt to prove an outlandish election fraud conspiracy theory, had his arraignment hearing postponed after he tested positive for COVID-19.
- The judge overseeing the case asked if the arraignment could be rescheduled for Friday on Zoom, but according to Aguirre’s attorney, Aguirre is not “doing well,” does not own a phone, and may not own a computer.
- According to prosecutors, Aguirre believed the repairman he targeted had been hoarding 750,000 fraudulent ballots which he maintained had all been signed by Hispanic children “because the children’s fingerprints would not appear in any databases.”
- After tracking the repairman for four days, Aguirre attempted to make a citizen’s arrest on Oct. 19 by slamming into the man’s truck and faking an injury before pulling a gun on him while two co-conspirators searched the truck.
- Aguirre is being charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, a second-degree felony. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Ex-Houston Cop Charged In Attack Over Bogus Election Fraud Plot
The Thursday arraignment hearing for a former Houston police captain, who was arrested after acting on what may be one of the most bizarre election fraud conspiracy theories to come out of 2020, has been postponed because he’s now tested positive for COVID-19.
According to his attorney who presented the test results in court, that man — 63-year-old Mark Aguirre — “wasn’t doing well” as of Thursday night.
The judge presiding over the case asked if Aguirre would be able to appear Friday on a Zoom call. While Aguirre’s attorney said he would try to make that work, he also claimed that Aguirre does not own a phone and said he was not sure if Aguirre owns a laptop, either.
On Tuesday, Aguirre was arrested nearly two months after he violently held a man at gunpoint while trying to prove that the 2020 Presidential Election had been rigged against President Donald Trump.
According to prosecutors, in October, Aguirre and two other unidentified people reportedly tracked a man for four days on the suspicion that he was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in his truck and home. Prosecutors have also claimed that Aguirre believed these ballots had all been signed by Hispanic children “because the children’s fingerprints would not appear in any databases.”
Aguirre also allegedly believed that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had given the man, David Zuniga, $9.37 billion for “ballot harvesting.”
With that information in hand, Aguirre then reached out to three different Texas law enforcement agencies — the Texas Office of the Attorney General, the Texas Rangers, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. His concerns were rejected by all three.
Following Aguirre’s call with the attorney general’s office, Lt. Wayne Rubio alerted police that Aguirre might try to “handle” the situation on his own. In fact, according to prosecutors, that’s exactly what he did.
Early in the morning on Oct. 19, Zuniga noticed a black SUV swerve into his lane while he was driving. According to prosecutors, Zuniga just barely avoided getting hit by the SUV.
A few seconds later, the SUV then allegedly slammed into the back of Zuniga’s truck. From there, Zuniga pulled off the side of the road and got out of his truck to check on the SUV driver. That’s when Aguirre reportedly stepped out of the SUV while faking an injury.
“He said, ‘Help me! Help me!’ with his hand inside his coat,” Zuniga told KPRC News. “Then when I tried to help him, he pulls out a gun. That is when I was told to get on the ground.”
As Zuniga complied, Aguirre then pushed his knee into Zuniga’s back as two other unidentified co-conspirators arrived on the scene and searched Zuniga’s truck before driving away with it.
The truck was later found abandoned a few blocks away, but notably, no ballots were ever discovered in Zuniga’s truck or home. In fact, the Harris County district attorney’s office has described Zuniga as an “innocent and ordinary” air conditioner repairman.
Aguirre now faces a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Aguirre Was Paid $266,000 to Investigate Fraud
Aguirre is believed to have been paid $266,400 by the group Liberty Center for God and Country to investigate election fraud claims. Court records indicated $211,400 of that was given to Aguirre on Oct. 20, one day after he held Zuniga at gunpoint.
The group’s CEO, Steve Hotze, is an active GOP donor and was a major figure in trying to restrict 2020 voting efforts in Texas.
Alongside State. Rep Steve Toth (R), Hotze joined a lawsuit that unsuccessfully attempted to throw out nearly 127,000 Harris County ballots just before Election Day. Notably, those ballots were cast at drive-thru polling sites, which were established to provide a safe voting experience for people who might be nervous about going to traditional polling locations during the coronavirus pandemic.
In another lawsuit, Hotze failed to stop Gov. Greg Abbott (R) from extending the state’s early voting period, which was also a response to the pandemic. At the time, Aguirre provided an affidavit with that lawsuit, claiming he was investigating a “wide-ranging and fraudulent ballot harvesting scheme” in Harris County.
In 2017, Hotze — who is intensely opposed to same-sex marriage and trans rights — also backed an unsuccessful piece of Texas legislation aimed at keeping transgender people from using restrooms that align with their gender identity.
During this past summer’s protests over the in-custody killing of George Floyd, Hotze infamously left a voicemail for Abbott’s chief of staff, in which he said:
“I want to make sure that [Abbott] has National Guard down here and they have the order to shoot to kill if any of these son-of-a-bitch people start rioting like they have in Dallas, start tearing down businesses — shoot to kill the son of a bitches. That’s the only way you restore order. Kill ’em. Thank you.”
Unlike Aguirre, the Liberty Center for God and Country hasn’t been implicated in the attack against Zuniga. Reportedly, Aguirre was only one of 20 investigators it hired to look into election fraud claims in Texas. As Hotze’s attorney also claimed, the CEO “did not direct or lead any of the investigations.”
“Unless there is evidence that tends to connect Dr. Hotze or anybody else to the commission of this aggravated assault, that is the beginning and the end of this matter,” Brian Wice, a legal analyst for KPRC News, said.
What About Aguirre’s Conspirators?
Attorneys are still trying to determine the identities of Aguirre’s co-conspirators, but that’s been made difficult because since being arrested, Aguirre has claimed he doesn’t know who they are.
“This is a political prosecution,” Aguirre’s attorney said of the charges against his client. “Retaliation for the investigation that was being done.”
Aguirre worked for the Houston Police Department for 24 years but was fired in 2003 following a controversial raid at a Kmart parking lot.
On Tuesday, the same day he was arrested for the attack against Zuniga, Aguirre was released from jail on $30,000 bond.
See what others are saying: (KPRC) (CNN) (Texas Tribune)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)
Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids
The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.
DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.
The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.
In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.”
Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.
In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”
Labor Market Implications
The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.
Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.
According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.
“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”
It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.
The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.
That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (ABC News)
Mom Charged for Hosting Secret Teen Parties, Pressuring Kids To Drink and Engage in Sex Acts
Investigators said some of the sex acts between teens were non-consensual and at times took place while the mother stood by laughing.
Mother Hit With Dozens of Charges
A California mother is facing 39 criminal charges after hosting a series of illegal parties for her teenage son and his mostly 14- and 15-year-old friends that regularly led to dangerous accidents and sexual assaults.
The mother, 47-year-old Shannon O’Connor, also known as Shannon Bruga, is currently awaiting extradition to Santa Clara County. According to The Mercury News, she was arrested Saturday in Ada County, Idaho, where she has a home in addition to her property in Los Gatos that is currently on the market.
Her criminal charges include 12 felony counts and 10 misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, one count of misdemeanor sexual battery, three counts of misdemeanor child molestation, and 13 misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors.
“It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a press release regarding the case. “As a parent, I’m shocked. As the DA, I’m determined to hold those adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community.”
What Happened During the Parties?
Investigators claim O’Connor organized the functions, attended by as many as 20 teens, via text message and Snapchat. She would then allegedly supply the teens with alcohol and push them to binge drink, often to the point of illness or unconsciousness.
The harm that resulted from their intoxication included one teen breaking a finger and another almost drowning in a hot tub, among other serious situations.
In another instance, O’Connor let an unlicensed drunk teen drive her car. Her son and another one of his friends then hung off the back while it was moving, which caused the friend to fall, hit his head, and become unconscious for 30 seconds. He was later diagnosed with a concussion after spending the night vomiting.
O’Connor is additionally accused of manipulating and encouraging drunk teens to participate in sex acts with one another, which were sometimes non-consensual or carried out while she watched. In some cases, she allegedly laughed while the sexual acts happened or when assault victims asked her why she didn’t step in to help.
Investigators added that O’Connor required teens who attended her parties to keep them a secret. She’s even accused of helping them sneak out of their homes so she could drive them to her events. Authorities said she was found to have bullied at least one teen who she suspected of breaking the secret.
“Everyone should feel relieved this woman’s not on the street,” the parents of one assault victim told The Mercury News. “She was grooming these kids, setting them up for sexual acts, and she’s a mother and doing this to her own child. … I’ve been racking my brain trying to think what was in it for her.“