The Houston Chronicle and Media Matters have spent the last couple of days insinuating that True the Vote, the Houston-based nonpartisan non-profit that defends election integrity, is under an investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
The Chronicle‘s Joe Holley initiated this round of accusations against True the Vote and their founder, Catherine Engelbrecht. Media Matters for America repeated it shortly thereafter.
True the Vote was formed by members of the Houston-based King Street Patriots Tea party organization, but it is a separate entity. Holley’s article stated, “The King Street effort [to monitor voter fraud] resulted in numerous complaints about voter intimidation … and an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.”
Media Matters then picked up the story, stating, “In October 2010, the organization — an offshoot of the Texas-based Tea Party group King Street Patriots — was accused of voter intimidation at polling places in Harris County, Texas, prompting an investigation by the Justice Department.”
Holley has used the Houston Chronicle as his medium to make the same claim on two other occasions. However, the problem with these publications’ joint claim is that it is patently false.
Not only did the FBI state that no such records existed in a letter to Engelbrecht’s congressman, but the local authorities also confirmed in writing that no such investigation ever occurred.
To make the Chronicle‘s false assertion even more puzzling, Holley stated in an email to a True the Vote representative, “I don’t think we’re talking about formal complaints with the FBI,” and “I’m pretty sure I remember a conversation with … about calls the county attorney’s office got from voters … Whether they were formal complaints, I don’t know. We got those calls too.”
When the True the Vote representative asked about possible recourse for the organization after being smeared with such a damaging and false allegation, Holley emailed back, “The KSP can write a letter to the editor, submit an op-ed piece or send me information I can blog about.”
The damage was done in the Sunday edition of Houston’s only major metropolitan paper; never mind that the millions of readers who presumably saw the falsehood wouldn’t go to the blog or read the corrections page.
Though it’s all too predictable for Media Matters to make false claims against pro-Constitutional groups, Joe Holley and the Houston Chronicle doing so will no doubt take many Houstonians by surprise – if they ever realize the information they were fed as truth was inaccurate and false.
Headline Image: profile picture of Joe Holley’s Twitter account.