Hidden camera limits spark heated Texas House debate

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Debate over an ethics bill has gotten especially heated in the Texas House, as veteran Republicans and Democrats complained about conservative activists using hidden cameras to embarrass and bully lawmakers.

The Legislature has been rocked by the American Phoenix Foundation, a group with cameras that has descended on the Capitol.

It says it's collected video showing lawmakers being chummy with lobbyists. Though it's not released the recordings, the group says it'll use them during upcoming primary elections.

Republican Rep. Byron Cook defended a provision of the ethics bill limiting filming, saying: "This is a dark and evil force."

Tea party-backed Rep. Jonathan Stickland accused Cook of being anti-transparency. But some Democratic women said the group had intimidated them, adding: "Elected officials are human beings."

A vote removing the provision failed.

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