Epstein paid $50,000 for MLS petitioners

On Wednesday FOX 7 Austin told you about a couple of hidden-camera videos of petitioners near Austin polling places on election day.

Fuzzy facts... "Alright, this is for the soccer stadium, we're trying to bring a new soccer stadium here," one petitioner said.  

And questionable statistics... "You're building stadiums at 3 times the rate of other cities.  Let's slow down and let the people have a say-so," another petitioner said.

Read Caught on Video: Petitioners giving misinformation about MLS stadium deal

The political action committee "Fair Play ATX" who hired the petitioners tells FOX 7 the point is to make sure voters and taxpayers have a say before the city "gives away free rent and waives property taxes" for Precourt Sports Ventures. 

PSV wants to build a Major League Soccer stadium on city-owned land.  Council approved the deal this summer. But that's not what one of the petitioners said.  "It didn't pass so we trying to get it on the ballot now again.  Otherwise they would have built it, think about it," he said.

"I thought to myself 'you know I was pretty sure that I was in council that night when the vote passed' but he was pretty convincing," said Mark Littlefield who shot the video.  

Talk about picking the wrong person...

The petitioner approached political consultant and City Hall lobbyist Mark Littlefield at UT.  Precourt Sports Ventures is one of Littlefield's clients.  So he had heard of canvassers giving out bogus info.  

"And so I told people 'look if you ever get a chance, videotape their spill so we can see for ourselves if this was true or not.'  So I had my phone in my hand because I was ending my scooter ride and then the man approached me and began asking if I wanted to 'sign my petition,'" Littlefield said.  

So who is behind Fair Play ATX?

The group says Circuit of the Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein essentially created the PAC and gave $50,000 to pay their petitioners.  Epstein has his own "USL" soccer team at COTA called the "Austin Bold."

After seeing the videos, Fair Play ATX general counsel Nikelle Meade told us they're "working with the supervisors and trainers of the petitioners to ensure that the information these two petitioners provided isn't used again."

"I think that the responsible thing would be for this group to suspend their activity, retrain all their petition-gatherers, find the petitions that were gathered by this one specific person and toss them out," Littlefield said.

Fair Play ATX also says "No matter what sort of ploys Precourt's lobbyist Mark Littlefield tries to throw out there (and we're confident that he will continue to try to create distractions from the real issues at every turn) fair treatment and fair taxes are the bottom line."

We also contacted the City of Austin about whether they'll investigate the misinformation allegations surrounding the petition.  They say that's not in their power to do that.
If you accidentally signed the petition under false pretenses and didn't really want to -- Texas Election Code says you can send an affidavit to the City requesting the removal or come in person to do it.  

But be sure to do it before the petition is received by the city.

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