Democratic Candidate Arrested After Sending Himself Racist Text Messages

( – Despite the rumors floating around these days, election tampering rarely happens. When it does, it typically involves election officials and workers or candidates and not members of the public. Such was the case with an aspiring Democratic candidate for local office who sent himself a series of racist text messages to gain an advantage over his Republican opponent.

Democratic Candidate Arrested

On Thursday, June 13, Texas media outlets exploded with the news that a Texas Ranger arrested a Democratic candidate for Fort Bend County Commissioner on Wednesday morning. The reports confirmed that Precinct 3 hopeful Taral Patel, 30, was apprehended during a routine roadside traffic stop for speeding.

Trooper Abraham Pineda, a ranger with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Public Corruption Unit, executed the arrest armed with two warrants: one for “online impersonation” and the other for “misrepresentation of identity.”

Background of the Case

Evett Kelly, an investigator with the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office (FBCDAO), submitted a criminal complaint and affidavit for arrest detailing Patel’s alleged crimes. After a brief investigation, she ascertained that Patel unlawfully impersonated Patrick Ernst on several social media sites without obtaining his consent, a third-degree felony offense under section 33.07 of the Texas Penal Code. Likewise, he impersonated Ernst to harm, defraud, or threaten another person.

The 15-page document explained that Patel set up a Facebook account using the name “Antonio Scalywag,” a reference to a derogatory term used by Southern Democrats to describe their Republican rivals during the Reconstruction Era.

Patel allegedly used the Scalywag account to send racist messages to himself from October 20, 2022, through May 4, 2024, to depict Meyers and his supporters as bigots as part of a criminal scheme to throw the election in his favor. He also used the account to smear a Democratic primary opponent.

The Plot Thickens

On September 18, 2023, Patel posted a lengthy statement on his campaign’s Facebook page discussing the racist messages. He also included an image of several of the posts. The accompanying text explained that Patel had “worked tirelessly… with nothing but love and respect.” He said his campaign and political ambitions were “guided” by his “faith, shared American values, and cultural heritage.” Court records list Patel as a non-Hispanic/Asian/Pacific Islander.

Patel continued his narrative by claiming Meyers and his minions decided to “hurl racist, anti-immigrant, Hinduphobic [sp] and otherwise disgusting insults” at him, his family, colleagues, and the faith community. “That crosses a line,” he proclaimed.

Meyers subsequently contacted the FBCDAO, and the office launched its investigation, culminating in Patel’s recent arrest.

On June 13, the Fort Bend Sheriff’s Office released Patel on a $20,000 bond for the felony impersonation charge and an additional $2,500 on the misdemeanor misrepresentation count. The court scheduled his next appearance on July 22.

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