The Go Vote No Campaign, which opposes the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association’s proposed amendments to the San Antonio city charter, has released secretly recorded audio that it says is the fire union president discussing the union’s ultimate goals.
In a 49 second audio file, fire union President Chris Steele talks about securing a collective bargaining contract in the next year, getting the city to drop a now-defunct lawsuit against the union, and electing current District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse as mayor.
“It’s really a campaign tactic, but it’s also a lobbying tactic to get City Council to back up in three things,” said Steele in the recording.
Christian Archer, campaign manager for the Go Vote No Campaign, which is also known as a political action committee named Secure San Antonio’s Future, said the tape was recorded by a firefighter but did not provide a date.
“This was recorded at a fire station where Chris Steele was asking firefighters to please contribute more money to the campaign for the propositions,” Archer said.
In the final seconds of the tape, Steele mentions the union’s goal of electing Brockhouse to the mayor’s seat.
“The third thing is setting up to where, May of 2019, we can put our own guy in the mayor’s office, which would be Greg Brockhouse in the mayor’s office,” he said.
LISTEN | Audio released by the Go Vote No Campaign
In response, Brockhouse said it’s no secret the fire union supports him but he said he did not state any immediate plans to run for mayor in 2019.
“This is just another long line of personal attacks against Chris Steele, and now they’re trying to a drag a member of the city council into it,” he said.
Brockhouse has been the most supportive council member of the union’s proposed charter amendments, which are listed as Propositions A, B, and C on the November ballot. He previously worked with the fire and police unions.
Brockhouse called the unnamed firefighter a coward.
“Because a coward hides like that. Have the guts to go on the record,” Brockhouse said. “… You can imagine this coward was sitting in a corner, had their little cell phone out pretending like they were everybody’s friend and recording.”
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg has been a vocal opponent of the charter amendments.
“The people didn’t propose these amendments — Chris Steele did. The people didn’t collect those signatures — Chris Steele’s paid political hacks from Buda did. The people aren’t paying for this campaign. Chris Steele illegally used the fire Union’s money to do so,” said Nirenberg in a statement. “Chris Steele may not want to take credit for this fiasco, but it lies entirely on him and no one else. And now we know, in his own words, the real reason he wants to perpetrate this tax-raising scheme on San Antonio to satisfy his obsessive need for control over the city.”
Steele did not return a call for comment Wednesday night.
Joey Palacios can be reached at joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @joeycules