Earlier this week, candidate Mattie Parker appeared to take the side of Democrats’ big business allies who are attacking the Texas Legislature’s attempts to secure elections. A day later, however, Parker praised how legislators are approaching the issue, voiced her support for voter ID, and acknowledged citizens should be concerned about “too much corporate influence” on the legislative process.

At a mayoral candidate forum hosted by the Fort Worth Chamber on April 14, Parker was asked about “business leaders” attacking election integrity reforms underway in various state legislative bodies, adding critics claim these reforms would make it harder to vote.

For weeks, an alliance of big corporations and national Democrats has been launching a coordinated attack against states trying to secure their elections. There are currently two major election integrity bills in the Texas Legislature: Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 6. Critics haven’t identified any specific provisions of these bills that would make it harder to vote.

Candidates were asked, “How should the next mayor handle this topic, particularly when it comes to recruiting business?”

“Anytime your CEOs are speaking up, out of concern, we have to listen, especially in a city that is trying to grow jobs and economy,” Parker replied. “You’ve got a pretty diverse delegation in Tarrant County right now that probably differ on their opinions on what’s happened at the state legislative level. … You can’t have those people pitted against one another if you’re really focused on pitching businesses to the city of Fort Worth or across Texas, rather. And that’s what you’re seeing happen in states like Georgia, where companies are really upset about what they’re seeing with voting rights across their state.”

A day later, at a candidate forum held by citizen group Project Fort Worth, Parker was asked what she would do as mayor to promote election integrity in the city.

“I think the Texas Legislature is approaching this in a really smart way,” she replied. “They’re being very public about it; they’re not hiding the ball at all. They’re really focusing on the election integrity issue, which is what we’re talking about here.”

“I think the question has been asked about voter ID to vote?” she added. “I’m a huge proponent for that.”

“I, admittedly, having run this election, I’ve been a little bit ‘head down,’ focused on running for mayor, and so I haven’t looked at that to really pay attention,” Parker continued. “I did work in Austin for years, so now I know the bills I want to go research and understand all the things that are options on the table, and what really will pass the House and the Senate.”

“While I know that there are a few corporations that are [Fort Worth-based]—well, more importantly, Texas-based—that have raised an issue, I do give a lot of credence to Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, our Senate, and our state legislators.”

“They have [a] great relationship with business, and I think they’re doing a better job behind the scenes talking to those business leaders about what this bill in Texas really would accomplish to prohibit … what you’ve seen happen in Georgia, [and] now Washington,” she said. “You’ve elected leaders to go to Austin or go to D.C. and work on different issues, and you should be concerned if you got too much corporate influence on that process.”

That same day, a supporter posted a screenshot of a conversation he allegedly had with Parker.

Texas Scorecard asked the Parker campaign to confirm if this was her, and, taking into consideration polling showing a majority of likely U.S. voters support election integrity reforms, if she’d side with businesses or citizens on this issue.

“Yes, I can confirm that I said this,” she replied. “The U.S. Supreme Court was clear that voter integrity reforms have to be solved at the state level, and that’s precisely what’s being debated in our own state Legislature in real time.”

“We have excellent state representatives, such as Matt Krause, Craig Goldman, and others, and I’m confident they will come up with some good solutions to improve the system to ensure secure, fair elections. It’s absolutely important that we restore confidence in the system for all voters.”

The Brian Byrd campaign did not respond to a press inquiry about his position on election integrity before publication. Parker’s position now aligns her more with that of candidate Steve Penate.

“Yes, ballot-by-mail voter fraud is an issue in Tarrant County, in Texas, and across America,” Penate previously told Texas Scorecard. “We absolutely have to secure our elections.”

Candidate Daniel Caldwell also sent us his views on election integrity following a press inquiry.

“I believe most citizens have lost faith in our election systems whether there is actual fraud or not, and the participation rates are one symptom of that,” he said. “I would like to see various kinds of election reforms designed to increase confidence in our elections.” Among those reforms he listed are having a public (rather than private) ballot and “a biometric feature” on ballots that would use fingerprints instead of signatures.

He also wants “rank-preference voting to eliminate runoffs” as well as victory by plurality (instead of a majority).

Election integrity is a top legislative priority of the Texas Republican Party and the only one also declared an emergency item by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in February. In March, Abbott said he was ready to sign “robust” election reform bills that come to his desk.

Early voting for the May 1 local elections in North Texas runs April 19-27. Citizens may view Parker’s answers to the Fort Worth Chamber and Project Fort Worth below.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.