For one Texas senator, there may be some difficult explaining to do around the Thanksgiving dinner table thanks to an undercover video released today by the American Phoenix Foundation.
APF revealed during the latter part of the 84th legislative session they had been covertly filming the interactions between legislators, lobbyists, and staff in the Capitol and in the bars and restaurants around Austin.
In response, the leadership of the Texas House distorted a major ethics package, adding an unconstitutional provision that would have banned the release of the videos. Gov. Abbott and the Texas Senate rejected the measure.
The video, entitled “TX Sen. Carlos Uresti shares a restroom with a female lege staffer,” begins with a Thanksgiving message from the senator, before cutting to various clips of Uresti with women in an Austin hotel bar.
Today’s video is an example of what the legislators may have had in mind when they tried to keep the videos from the public’s eyes.
In one clip, a woman identified as a lobbyist with the Texas Strategy Group is seen kissing Uresti at a bar. In a later clip, Uresti is shown exiting a private bathroom just minutes after a woman identified as a legislative staffer exits the same bathroom.
“That’s hard to explain!” the video notes.
Perhaps more shocking than Mr. Uresti’s apparent extra-marital relationships with lobbyists and legislative staffers is a document identified early in the APF video.
After noting that Uresti was divorced in 2007, the video cuts to a police report containing allegations that Uresti committed domestic violence against his ex-wife. Carlos Uresti married his current wife in 2012.
In the police report, notes from a 911 call show that Uresti’s ex-wife alleged he was abusing her. The call notes record the caller as saying “he is a seantor [sic],” and “has a gun,” and “is assaulting her.”
Carlos Uresti is a Democrat state senator from San Antonio. Before his promotion to the Senate in 2006, Uresti served for nine years in the lower chamber. He is currently backing his brother Thomas in a run for the Texas House. His brother Albert was elected tax assessor-collector of Bexar County in 2012.
This is not the first video released by the Phoenix Foundation exposing the too cozy relationship between legislators and lobbyists. So far, videos have also focused on Rep. Harold Dutton (D–Houston), Rep. Kyle Kacal (R–College Station), Rep. Morgan Meyer (R–Dallas), Rep. Doug Miller (R–New Braunfels) and their interactions with lobbyists.