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At a recent candidate debate hosted by the Ector County Republican Party, three of the candidates running for Texas’ 11th Congressional District—Jamie Berryhill, August Pfluger, and Brandon Batch— said they did not vote in the 2018 General Election. A subsequent investigation revealed that two of the three candidates, Batch and Pfluger, had only registered to vote for the first time this past October.

Now, however, further fact-checking by Texas Scorecard reveals that Batch’s lengthy explanation for not voting doesn’t match the public records.

 

“At the time, I was working for Congressman Michael McCaul. I was traveling abroad,” Batch said at the debate, “And I was given a decision to either go and meet with foreign dignitaries abroad on his behalf or stay and vote in one of the most liberal places on planet Earth—which is Washington D.C.”

However, a review of public records indicated that Batch’s employment with Congressman McCaul’s office ended in May of 2018, months before the November election.

Texas Scorecard reached out to Batch for a comment, and he responded. He confirmed he did not work for McCaul during the November 2018 General Election and said there must have been a misunderstanding during the debate.

“I thought the question at the forum in Ector County was in reference to the [2016] presidential election, as most of the questions we have received at the forums have been,” Batch said. “I did not know it was in reference to this past election, which was my mistake.”

Batch went on to say, “I was obviously wrong. However, I was not trying to mislead people, and as you well know, I was not employed by McCaul during that time. I hope this clears up any misunderstandings.”

However, Batch’s response muddies the water even more.

Despite his updated claim, Batch’s travel story doesn’t seem to work with the 2016 timeline, either—records do not appear to show any privately or taxpayer-funded trips during the November 2016 General Election. Batch’s only congressional travel record in 2016 shows he took a trip in February to Colombia to meet with foreign officials.

According to sources in Washington that are intimately familiar with congressional travel records, congressional staff may travel on either publicly or privately funded trips. Privately funded trips are required to be reported in public record, whereas most, but not all, taxpayer-funded trips may be public record.

Texas Scorecard has reached out to Congressman McCaul’s office multiple times seeking comment on whether Batch was out of the country on an official trip during the 2016 election. As of publishing, they have not responded.