Mark Anthony Aguirre, 63, knew how to conduct an investigation. He’d been a Captain in the Houston Police Department until being indefinitely suspended in 2003. Despite his expertise, he has been charged regarding an October incident related to baseless conspiracy theory and now faces up to twenty years in prison.
As President Trump warned of false ballots being used to undermine the election, some people – including some fairly wealthy people – took Trump’s rhetoric seriously after it had been amplified by dozens of prominent officeholders and political pundits. Among them was the man who ran the Liberty Center for God and Country, Steven Hotze, M.D.
Hotze is a successful family practice doctor with a good medical reputation developed over thirty years. Despite that history, he has been at the forefront of pressuring Governor Abbott against taking action against COVID-19, filing lawsuits to impede contact tracing and demanding that masks not be required. He has helped to organize Republican religious advocates and state Representatives behind Lt. Governor Dan Patrick in similar challenges, and Abbott has repeatedly succumbed, in part or in whole, to that pressure.
Hotze LCGC paid Aguirre, who describes himself as a “retired” police chief despite the dismissal, more than $250,000 to investigate President Trump’s claims of voter fraud, and Aguirre believed he’d found something. After identifying the only person in the Houston area who could, in his view, be responsible he engaged in a four-day surveillance. When the opportunity arose on October 19, he confronted the man at a point when the criminal was known to have what was believed to be 750,000 ballots in his possession.
Aguirre forced the man to stop while he was driving a box truck, striking the truck in the process. He forced the man out of the vehicle at gunpoint, had him lay on the ground, put his knee against the man to detain him and contacted the police. An associate of Aguirre’s drove the truck to a nearby location and awaited authorities.
When the police arrived they determined that the truck held only the air conditioning equipment that the repairman used to do his job.
Subsequent investigation by the Houston police verified that there were never any stolen or fraudulent ballots. The argument that the repairman was the only person who might have been able to orchestrate the potential fraud fell apart in the face of one key problem with the argument : there was no fraud.
Much as with the Comet Ping Pong attack of Edgar Welch (which netted him four years in prison) the motivations of the person may have once had some basis in decency (whether saving children from sexual slavery in “Pizzagate” or preserving the integrity of elections) but allowing hate and irrationality and trust in selected authority figures to take precedence over reason resulted in wanton criminality which luckily didn’t cost any lives.
The accomplice who drove the truck is facing lesser charges. There are no known penalties being assessed to Dr. Hotze or the LCGC, or to the politicians or pundits who furthered the conspiracy theory of a stolen election in the first place.