Election

Shady Business? Leaked Video Shows 'Dark Money' Group Behind Texas Voting Bills

The future of Texas voting in one image.
The future of Texas voting in one image. Dallas Observer
With hundreds of recently introduced bills aiming to restrict voting in state legislatures nationwide, a conservative “dark money” outfit has singled out as Texas as the next big battleground over electoral legislation, according to a leaked video.

As first reported by Mother Jones, the video depicts Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, speaking to a private meeting of donors in Tucson, Arizona, in April.

In the clip, she says that the right-wing organization wrote 19 provisions in a Texas House bill that makes it harder for election administrators to prevent voter intimidation by partisan poll watchers. The bill also makes it illegal for election officials to distribute unsolicited mail-in ballot applications.

Anderson also expressed confidence that the bill, which is opposed by businesses, civil rights groups and voting advocacy outfits, would become law in Texas. “Gov. Abbott will sign it quickly,” she said, referring to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has backed a slate of similar voting bills.

In recent weeks, dozens of corporations have come out against voting restrictions in Texas and elsewhere. Civil rights groups say the bills would further entrench voter suppression, especially harming voters of color and those with disabilities.

“American Airlines, Dell, they’re coming after us,” Anderson added. “We need to be ready for the next fight in Texas.”

The video didn’t just include Anderson’s comments about Texas, however. Heritage Action for America, a sister organization for the Heritage Foundation, has been at the forefront of crafting similar legislation in states including Georgia, Florida, Arizona and Iowa, Mother Jones reports.

The bills picked up around the country in the wake of the November 2020 presidential election, which many Republicans baselessly claim was rigged against former President Donald Trump.

"We need to be ready for the next fight in Texas." - Jessica Anderson, Heritage Action for America

tweet this
In response to Mother Jones’ inquiries, Anderson said, “We are proud of our work at the national level and in states across this country to promote commonsense reforms that make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

She also blamed opposition to the bills on “cancel culture” and a left-wing “smear campaign.”

In Texas, Gov. Abbott declared “election integrity” an emergency legislative item this session, insisting that legal voting was in peril in the state.

During a press conference in March, Abbott said his objective was “to ensure that every eligible voter gets to vote and that only eligible ballots are counted.”

"In the 2020 election, we witnessed actions throughout our state that could risk the integrity of our elections and enable voter fraud, which is why I made election integrity an emergency item this session,” the governor said.

But the Texas Democratic Party has condemned moves to further restrict voting in Texas, already one of the most difficult states to cast a ballot in.

“The GOP lost the presidency, the House, the Senate and a lot of ground in 2020 – but instead of addressing the real problems Texans face, they continue their race to the bottom by appealing to right-wing extremists and putting forward wildly unpopular and discriminatory policies,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement on Friday.

“They are letting outside interests like Heritage Action control them and try to tell Texans how to live and how to vote,” Hinojosa added. “It won’t work.”
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.