Austin City Council District 4 Candidate Laura Pressley has come under scrutiny for some of her views, including a 'Fluoride Free' campaign for the city's drinking water and claims that electricity smart meters cause her legs to twitch.
These and several other views of Pressley's were cataloged this week by the Austin Chronicle. And there's another wrinkle to the candidate's perspectives: A newly-discovered recording shows that Pressley also claims that the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were actually a controlled demolition.
Pressley made her views known at an event two years ago at the alternative bookstore Brave New Books titled '9/11 Debate: How Strong is the Evidence of a Larger Conspiracy?' Pressley jumped in during a question and answer session after the panel had concluded and attacked panelist Daniel Krawisz for not knowing about a "study" that linked traces of explosives found at the site of the destruction to explosives used by the U.S. military.
You can listen to the full exchange here:
The paper Pressley cited examined a component of explosives found at the sites and compared "it directly to morphological samples gotten from the military," Pressley said. They "compare directly" and "that is the data that convinced me 100-percent something was planted in the buildings," she said.
Krawisz (now a Libertarian candidate for the state legislature) had not read the paper, and didn't buy into any of the 9/11 conspiracies. "I think that is really sad," Pressley told him. "You come here and you’re a physicist and you have not read the paper." Later in the exchange, she accused Krawisz of lying. "I would recommend you not make the false statements that engineers and scientists have not published this data," she said.
The controlled demolition theory that Pressley apparently subscribes to says that the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center fell not because two passenger jets struck them, but rather because there were explosives planted ahead of time that brought them down. The idea is that "somebody pressed a button," Krawisz explains.
When reached this morning to ask about her views, Pressley said she was "electioneering at a poll site" and needed to talk to voters but would call back at a later time. "I'm going to be real, real respectful. I'm talking to voters," she said. When a tape was played of Pressley speaking at the Brave New Books event asking her to confirm it is her voice, Pressley hung up. The candidate was given the opportunity to call back and respond before this article was published and initially declined to do so.
In a later email, Pressley said she was "not sure where you are getting your information" and did not respond to the claims. "You should be asking the hard questions about how candidates are going to fix our affordability, our traffic, our crime occurring in District 4 and how are we going to pay for those new initiatives," Pressley wrote.
Pressley was endorsed by the editorial board of the Austin-American Statesman this election for District 4 because "she would be the kind of council member to dig into the details before taking a vote, even if the results are unpopular. She has a doctorate in chemistry and talent for number crunching after decades in the semiconductor industry, which will come in handy once this council is seated," the Statesman's board wrote in their endorsement. (Update, Nov. 3: Citing KUT's reporting on Pressley's views, on Monday, November 3, the Statesman revoked their endorsement of Pressley for District 4. They are not endorsing any other candidate at this time.)
Her views on fluoridation and smart meters have been known for some time, before her campaign in 2012 against Mike Martinez for a place on the city council. "Pressley has come a long way from 2011 when she pleaded with council to remove fluoride from the city's water. That campaign gave us some pause, but her actions and statements since have persuaded us that she has moved on from that fight," the Statesman board wrote in October.
When an audience member at the 2012 event asked Pressley for her credentials to make such claims about the 9/11 attacks, she said that "I have a Ph.D in physical chemistry from University of Texas at Austin. And I was in the semiconductor industry and it has ... these are techniques that we use to go prove root causes. So this is a really strong root cause analysis." A search at the University's registrar office confirms Pressley received a PhD in Chemistry in 1994.
Pressley did not appear on the panel itself, which took place on June 29, 2012. After the event, a commenter on the event's web page named Lynn wrote: "Very entertaining. Dr. Laura Pressley really nailed the anti-truther with her question/comment!"
For his part, Krawisz isn't very surprised that a high-profile candidate for city council in a city of nearly a million people holds these views about 9/11.
"You know, I think lots of politicians and elected officials believe far crazier things," he says. "But I didn't like how she treated me during the interaction. She was clearly grandstanding toward the audience, she wasn't facing me when she asked the question. And I thought she was quite rude about it. That is something that is more disturbing to me than the conspiracy stuff."
Krawisz told Pressley at the event that he would take a look at the paper she was citing to support her view that 9/11 was an inside job by the U.S. military. And he did.
"I didn't have a very good answer at the time," Krawisz says. "But I later learned [the paper she cited] appeared in a vanity journal."
The tracers Pressley claimed match explosives used by the military? "It was actually paint," Krawisz says.