Tarrant County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Russ Casey has been caught with his pants down again, metaphorically this time, pushing him to drop his re-election bid.
The Republican judge submitted a “Notice of Withdrawal” from the 2018 GOP primary just days after watchdog organization Direct Action Texas (DAT) exposed dozens of fraudulent signatures on Casey’s candidate petitions.
The DAT team went door to door, talking directly with voters whose names were on Casey’s petitions and collecting affidavits from those who said the signatures weren’t theirs.
But rather than own up to his mistakes, Casey blames “bias” by Tarrant County Republican Party chair Tim O’Hare for ending his re-election campaign.
Casey hasn’t been charged with any crime, but the evidence in hand clearly shows discrepancies with his petitions. It’s possible a campaign staffer forged the petition signatures – someone did, according to sworn affidavits from the voters themselves. But it certainly was not O’Hare.
And Casey’s signature is also on the petitions as the “circulator,” indicating that he personally witnessed each voter’s signature.
Responsibility falls squarely on the candidate himself.
This isn’t Casey’s first official scandal. In May of last year, he was reprimanded by the state for engaging in sexual misconduct with his chief clerk and court manager over a period of five years. Casey denied responsibility in that case as well, though he eventually admitted to what he claimed was consensual sex.
Casey’s actions – and his failure to take responsibility for them – are prompting Tarrant County residents to call for more than his withdrawal. They want his resignation.
They might get it if there’s a criminal investigation into the petition signature fiasco.
Multiple counts of forgery constitute a felony offense. The DAT team says they’ll be turning over the evidence and affidavits they collected to the proper authorities.
We’ll be watching to see what unfolds.
In the meantime, it’s worth noting that Tarrant County election officials didn’t catch the forged signatures – they’re not required to. And officials didn’t do the legwork to verify with voters that their signatures had been stolen for political purposes – a form of voter fraud that’s often forgotten and rarely caught unless a candidate or citizen makes a complaint.
Individuals working together took the responsibility on themselves to hold their local government accountable. Their actions guaranteed that an unfit public servant leaves office. That’s how self-governance is done.