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October 19, 2015      5:02 PM

Phoenix Foundation, funded by Sandefer and other conservatives, shopped its videos to state and local Democrats

The group’s videos are now being promoted by Empower Texans but not before being rejected by Democrats, group says it "asked the Democrats for help because we like what we hear from many of their members about accountability"

The group that secretly videotaped Texas lawmakers this year after receiving large donations from various conservatives, including higher ed critic Jeff Sandefer, attempted to persuade Democrats at the state and local levels to promote their videos, Quorum Report has learned.

The American Phoenix Foundation, which received at least $200,000 from Texas Public Policy Foundation Board Member Sandefer, tried to get the Texas Democratic Party and the Travis County Democratic Party interested in promoting videos of Republican lawmakers supposedly engaged in inappropriate acts, officials with the parties said.

Sandefer has also donated to Tim Dunn's Empower Texans and the blog site AgendaWise.

Empower Texans is now promoting some videos produced by the American Phoenix Foundation, which touts on its website that it is an investigative journalism initiative in the spirit of “investigative journalist James O’Keefe.”

O’Keefe, as our readers may be aware, is the conservative activist and “gotcha man” famous for highly-edited videos. O’Keefe, along with the American Phoenix Foundation’s Joe Basel, pleaded guilty back in 2010 in a plot to tamper with the phones in former Sen. Mary Landrieu’s offices.

As the foundation’s tactics were coming to light during the regular session of The Legislature, Sandefer told the Houston Chronicle that he was unhappy with them. "We were unhappy with a lack of progress in training journalists and asked for the money back,” he told the Chronicle. “And we did not receive any money back."

After the session, the American Phoenix Foundation called the Texas Democratic Party offices in Austin asking to coordinate an event to publicize their undercover videos, according to the party’s Deputy Executive Director Manny Garcia. “They called and offered to do an event with us but we were not interested,” Garcia said. “So, we did not call them back.”

By Scott Braddock