Earlier this fall, Republican powerhouse and anti-LGBTQ activist Steve Hotze was ranting about election fraud. Now Hotze finds himself entangled in an inevitably bizarre case growing out of Hotze’s fevered beliefs.
Hotze hired a team of private investigators to stop election fraud, spending $200,000 a week in the pursuit of his imaginary conviction. One of his investigators is Mark Aguirre, a former Houston cop who was fired in 2003 for the mass arrest of 300 people in a store parking lot as part of a crackdown on drag racing.
The intervening years apparently have done nothing to improve Aguirre’s judgment.
Aguirre became convinced that Daniel Lopez-Zuniga was not an air conditioning tech, but instead part of a vast election fraud conspiracy. On October 19, Aguirre tailed Lopez-Zuniga’s truck, certain that iit carried hundreds of thousands of fake ballots created by Mexican children thanks to funding from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Aguirre then struck the truck with his car and faked an injury before pulling a gun and forcing Lopez-Zuniga to the ground. One of Aguirre’s compatriots stole the truck, in an effort to find the ballots, and then abandoned it.
Hotze is the deep pockets behind the caper. The day after Aguirre’s escapade, Hotze’s group, the Liberty Center for God and Country, wired the ex-cop more than $200,000.
Hotze isn’t just a run-of-the-mill crank. He has been a fixture in Texas conservative circles for decades, thanks to his millions. (Hotze, who has an MD, made his money through wellness centers that sell “hormone replacement” therapy and other unproven treatments.)
Hotze’s made his political reputation for his attacks on LGBTQ rights. For years, he has railed against “homofascists,” decried “the immoral and perverted sexual activities” of gay people, and said that gays were part of a Marxist plot to destroy the nation “like termites.” He once endorsed a Houston mayoral candidate who said the best way to battle HIV was to “shoot the queers.” Later, Hotze expanded his repetoire, relying on his medical credentials to become a Fox News favorite for criticizing Obamacare.
As part of his hunt for voter fraud, Hotze brought an unsuccessful lawsuit that sought to invalidate 127,000 ballots in Harris County, not so coincidentally a Democratic stronghold. Aguirre’s arrest hasn’t detered Hotze. He says that the charges against Aguirre are “political retaliation” by Houston’s Democratic district attorney.
But don’t think Hotze has forgotten his anti-LGBTQ attacks. Earlier this year, he sent a letter to state GOP leaders demanding that Log Cabin Republicans be banned from the state party convention because all LGBTQ groups promote “immoral and perverted sexual proclivities” through events like Drag Queen Story Time.