HOUSTON (CN) — A Republican activist who hired private investigators to root out voter fraud in Houston was indicted Wednesday on two felony charges arising from one of his hires allegedly accosting an air-conditioner repairman at gunpoint in a fruitless search for fraudulent ballots.
Steven Hotze, a 71-year-old allergy doctor, held a fundraiser at a downtown Houston hotel early this month, soliciting donations to investigate voter fraud, co-hosted by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Mike Lindell, MyPillow CEO and proponent of conspiracy theories that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election.
He also filed more than 10 lawsuits in 2020, most of them against state and local officials over their handling of the pandemic, and one unsuccessfully attempting to invalidate more than 100,000 ballots Houston voters cast from their cars in drive-thru polls.
Hotze’s indictment is tied to the actions of Mark Aguirre, a former Houston police captain turned private investigator who Hotze hired for his voting fraud probe.
Attempting to make a citizen’s arrest, Aguirre, 64, rear-ended an A/C repairman’s truck with his SUV around 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 19, 2020, then pointed a pistol at the man and ordered him to get on the ground while his associates searched the truck, which they believed contained thousands of fraudulent ballots, Houston police say in a probable cause affidavit.
But all police found in the truck was A/C equipment.
Aguirre told police he was part of a group investigating voter fraud for Hotze’s organization, the Liberty Center for God and Country, and he and his team had been conducting 24/7 surveillance for four days on the repairman’s home.
Prosecutors charged Aguirre in December 2020 with aggravated assault for the holdup. He is free on bond. His arraignment has been postponed numerous times since and a trial date has yet to be set, court records show.
Despite Aguirre bungling the voting fraud investigation, Hotze paid him $266,400 for his work, most of it the day after he held up the repairman, as revealed in court documents.
Indicted on Wednesday by a Harris County grand jury in the county seat Houston, Hotze faces one count each of unlawful restraint and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, both felonies.
His attorney Gary Polland told the Texas Tribune the charges are “outrageous” as Hotze had nothing to do with Aguirre’s alleged holdup of the A/C repairman.
“All I know is Hotze didn’t aid or abet this in any way,” Polland said. “The donation of funds was for a righteous activity of rooting out ballot fraud.”
Polland also said Hotze plans to continue monitoring elections in Houston despite the indictment, according to the Tribune.
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