TCS DVIDS: Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., April 6, 2022. 

(The Center Square) – Two former federal agents involved in border security efforts told The Center Square a Republican congressional candidate in north Texas was misusing their names claiming they endorsed two candidates they haven’t and won’t endorse.

The campaign of Republican John O’Shea, who is running for an open seat in the 12th Congressional District in north Texas, emailed volunteers on Friday stating “a new PAC is being created for border protection. The PAC will be headed by Victor Avila and John Holman, former head of Homeland Security. This PAC will be endorsing John and David Lowe. We are asking for volunteers for a photoshoot on Tuesday, April 30.”

The email was sent to Tarrant County GOP precinct chairs, which was forwarded to The Center Square.

O’Shea is running against state Rep. Craig Goldman, a Republican from north Texas, in a runoff election. Goldman earned the most votes with 45% in the March 5 primary in a multi-candidate race. He is endorsed by Republicans Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm and outgoing Congresswoman Kay Granger, who’s seat he is hoping to fill.

O’Shea’s campaign email refers to a state House candidate, David Lowe, who is challenging incumbent state Rep. Stephanie Klick in the Republican primary runoff election in House District 91, also in north Texas. Klick, a pro-life advocate, who voted for property tax reform and border security, has been endorsed by Abbott, the National Border Patrol Council, several law enforcement agencies and pro-life organizations, among others.

The email also refers to Tom Homan, the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Victor Avila, a retired U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations special agent and former congressional candidate. It misstates Homan’s name and title and information about a political action committee.

Avila told The Center Square he created a new Border Patriot PAC and he is also involved in a 501C3 organization, Border 911, led by Homan. The PAC and the 501C3 are entirely separate organizations and have nothing to do with each other. Homan has no involvement in Avila’s PAC. The PAC and the 501C3 have no affiliation with the campaigns of O’Shea or Lowe, Homan and Avila told The Center Square.

Avila has met O’Shea and Lowe at political gatherings but has never met with either regarding political endorsements, he said. Neither endorsed his congressional campaign, they said. On Friday evening, Avila sent an email to O’Shea’s campaign asking it “to cease and desist and retract your email … regarding the endorsement by Victor Avila, the PAC and Tom Homan. At no time did the O’Shea and Lowe campaigns receive an endorsement from the PAC, Mr. Avila or Mr. Homan.”

Homan told The Center Square he “does not recall ever speaking or meeting O’Shea or Lowe” and “most certainly did not endorse them.”

He also said no one has ever used his name before for fundraising purposes without his knowledge that he is aware of.

This is the second time Avila knows of that his name has been used for fundraising or campaign purposes without his knowledge to benefit someone else, he told The Center Square.

About a year and a half ago someone used his name in a fraudulent fundraising scheme claiming he endorsed the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association in order to sell memberships. Members of the organization pay dues but not through the proposed scheme, which had nothing to do with the association, he said. The funds were instead raised for the individual’s financial gain who was invested by federal agents and arrested, Avila told The Center Square.

Responding to O’Shea’s campaign email, Avila told The Center Square, “This is the dirtiness of politics. This is the political system we live in where campaigns will put out whatever they want without vetting any information. Campaigns and candidates are relying on any type of tactics to gain votes.”

O’Shea and his campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

His campaign sent the email after in February claiming another organization, the Texas Association of Builders, endorsed him. The association issued a statement saying, “Mr. O’Shea, we have not endorsed you in this race. Please remove our name from your literature immediately.” O’Shea responded by claiming a volunteer made the mistake, apologized and made the correction.

O’Shea’s campaign claims also follow a claim he made on Nov. 20, 2023, in another social media post, in which he commented on an MSNBC interview of Rep. Dan Goldman who was criticizing former President Donald Trump. O’Shea said, “Thanks Craig!” Dan Goldman is a New York Democrat.

Kevin Brannon, a consultant to state Rep. Craig Goldman, told The Center Square, “John O’Shea is once again claiming a fake endorsement in a desperate attempt to hoodwink voters and prop up his failing campaign. When Donald Trump ran against Hillary Clinton on a platform to secure the border, John O’Shea didn’t even show up to vote for Trump. This fake conservative has missed voting in over 30 elections - failing to vote for Greg Abbott, Ted Cruz, Dan Patrick, and many other border security champions - so it’s no surprise O’Shea is manufacturing support he doesn’t have.”

Brannon is referring to Tarrant County election records, which show that O’Shea did not vote in the 39 elections since 2000.