A University of Texas student who sparked a national outrage after planning a mock immigration sting was paid by gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott’s campaign just weeks before the planned event, according to finance reports filed by the campaign this week.
The Republican's campaign paid Lorenzo Garcia $1,998.44 on Oct. 1 and $588.43 on Nov. 1. His “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game was scheduled for Nov. 20 but was canceled after university officials condemned the mock sting, which would have awarded prizes to students who caught someone wearing an “illegal immigrant” name tag.
At the time, Abbott's campaign called the game a "repugnant effort" and said Garcia had not worked for the attorney general for six to eight weeks. After the campaign finance reports became public this week, the campaign of Democrat Wendy Davis accused Abbott of trying to hide its relationship with Garcia, the chairman of the UT chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas.
“Greg Abbott’s camp lied about their association with the organizer of the heinous mock immigrant hunt,” said Rebecca Acuña, a spokeswoman with the Davis campaign. “The organizer of the mock immigration sting received a paycheck from Greg Abbott in October and November. Greg Abbott’s campaign intentionally deceived Texans.”
Abbott’s camp brushed off the claim on Friday, calling Davis’ statements further evidence the state senator from Fort Worth isn’t ready for a larger spotlight. Abbott’s camp said the explanation is simple and is related to payroll scheduling.
“He resigned on Oct. 8, so the Nov. 1 total is for his eight days of work in October,” said campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch. “The Davis campaign appears to have a serious problem understanding Texas Ethics Commission reports. It’s more evidence of a campaign that’s not ready for prime time,” he added, referring to last month’s acknowledgement by the Davis camp that it overstated the Abbott's donations from the payday lending industry.