Tarrant County JP drops out of re-election race amid forged signatures allegation

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Lacking party support and facing allegations that his campaign forged signatures on his ballot application, Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Russ Casey has bailed out on his re-election bid.

The Fort Worth-Star-Telegram reports that Casey contends he could not get a fair shot in the March 6 Republican primary, where Casey drew two opponents.

“It has become apparent to me that [Tarrant County Republican Party Chair Tim]…O’Hare is so biased against me that he will stop at nothing to prevent my re-election,” Casey said in a written statement to the newspaper. “I no longer have confidence that a fair election can actually be held while he remains chairman. I do not feel it is in the best interest of the party for me to remain a candidate.”

Casey, who took office in 2007, filed a lawsuit earlier this month claiming that his two opponents in the primary had failed to obtain the 250 valid signatures on their own election petitions to qualify for the ballot.

O’Hare criticized Casey over the lawsuit, saying “He’s going to go down in flames.”

The alleged forged signatures on Casey’s petition were discovered by conservative activist group Direct Action Texas, which contacted several people whom Casey presented as signees.

Those individuals claimed to have never signed the document.

Casey is 2015 was hit with a federal lawsuit filed by a former employee, who alleges he coerced her into a sexual relationship between 2009 and 2014. Casey contends the relationship was consensual. The suit was settled in December 2016.

The State Committee on Judicial Conduct ruled in May that Casey violated the Texas Constitution and Texas Code of Judicial Conduct by engaging in an “improper sexual relationship” with the subordinate, Martha Kibler. He was issued a public reprimand, which carries no penalty beyond the statement.

Casey said that the state action was “balderdash.”

JPs are not required to have a law license, although they rule on cases that include impaired driving, civil disputes and truancy cases.

The state’s committee on judicial conduct is an opaque operation that is not governed by the state’s transparency laws, making it difficult to gather the exhibits and evidence weighed in its decisions.

This is not the only Justice of the Peace race with a signature controversy in this election season.

In Harris County last month a judge ruled against a justice of the peace hopeful and kept her from the ballot amid claims of illegal signature gathering.

Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected]

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