State Rep. Jonathan Stickland has an audio recording he said could prove that he was set up.
On Friday, Stickland released an audio file from earlier in the session that he said is a recording of a staffer for state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, who called Stickland’s Capitol office and used a fake name to prompt behavior that could have been used against the tea party agitator from Bedford.
Hear the audio:
In the recording, which could not be verified, a man who said he was from Houston asked Stickland’s legislative director how the man might register his support for House Bill 142, a proposal by Stickland to ban red light cameras.
Stickland said he believes the caller hoped that the conservative Republican’s aide had offered to sign him up in support of the bill without the caller being present, which would be against House policy. The Stickland staffer simply explained the process to the caller, as heard on the recording.
“I was truly very angry to hear this for the first time, but also very sad,” Stickland said. “This crosses a line of decorum and honesty and questions integrity.”
When asked about the recording, Pickett said: “We don’t prompt anything.”
Stickland said the call appears to have been placed before Pickett, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, angrily tossed Stickland from a late night hearing of the committee on April 30 and accused him of the possible felony of tampering with a government document — by filling out a witness affirmation form in favor of the camera ban bill.
Since the ejection, state Rep. John Kuempel, a Republican from Seguin and chairman of the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee, said his committee would launch an investigation.
The investigation, being conducted by the Texas Rangers of the Department of Public Safety, has focused on the process of how committees’ electronic witness documents — like the ones Stickland or his staff was accused of filling out — are being used and potentially abused.
No individual members are being targeted, Kuempel said previously.
The investigation is ongoing.
Stickland said he believes it was Pickett’s staff on the recording, based on conversations with his lawyer, who has had conversations with DPS.
Earlier on April 30, Stickland and Pickett had a heated exchange on the House floor, when Stickland used a parliamentary maneuver to kill Pickett’s House Bill 2346.
At the time, Pickett seemed to good-naturedly poke fun at Stickland by delivering to him on the floor a large-print copy of the bill’s language, which would give limited powers of arrest to security officials at the Federal Reserve Bank. On the page were two stick figures to help Stickland understand the bill. The drawing depicted an armed Fed security guard, which was labeled “Good Guy,” and a masked bank robber with a “Bad Guy” tag.