Harris County DA Kim Ogg mentioned two suspects — Richard Bonton and Natasha Demming — conspired to unseat incumbent State Rep. Harold Dutton with a pretend candidate.
HOUSTON — A Harris County grand jury has indicted three folks accused in failed schemes to alter the outcomes of the 2020 statewide election in Texas.
The primary case concerned the Texas Home race in District 132.
Democratic political guide Damien Jones is accused of threatening State Rep. Gina Calanni to attempt to coerce her into resigning as an alternative of operating for re-election.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg mentioned Jones threatened to disclose data that might embarrass Calanni simply days earlier than the 2020 election submitting deadline.
As a substitute of resigning, Calanni contacted the Texas Rangers who launched an investigation with the Harris County DA’s Public Corruption Division.
Jones is charged with coercion of a public servant and false caller ID data show. If convicted, he may rise up to a yr in jail and a $4,000 advantageous.
“Our democracy is dependent upon retaining our elected officers protected from coercion and our elections free from unlawful manipulation,” Ogg mentioned.
The second case concerned the Texas Home race in District 142.
Richard Bonton and Natasha Demming conspired to unseat incumbent State Rep. Harold Dutton, in accordance with Ogg.
She mentioned Demming filed to run in opposition to Hutton utilizing the pretend identify of Natasha Ruiz. Ogg mentioned Demming and Bonton, who additionally ran in District 142, cooked up the scheme to attempt to manipulate Latino voters with the phony identify. Demming isn’t Hispanic.
It didn’t work however the pretend candidate obtained 20% of the vote.
Dutton held on to his workplace by defeating challenger Jerry Davis, who wasn’t a part of the alleged scheme.
Demming is charged with two felony counts of tampering with a governmental file. She additionally faces three Class A misdemeanor prices: perjury, election fraud and conspiracy to commit tampering with a governmental file.
Bonton is charged with tampering with a governmental file and two Class A misdemeanors.
“These indicted at this time crossed the road from soiled politics to felony exercise and they’ll pay the value,” Ogg mentioned. “The general public’s proper to free and honest elections is the muse of our democracy.”
Dutton suspected one thing fishy was occurring again and March and employed a non-public investigator.
“The increasingly more I’ve gotten into this, the increasingly more it feels like one thing felony went on, which bothers me just a little bit,” the Houston Democrat informed The Texas Tribune. “That might have an effect on the entire Democratic course of in some respects — and that simply shouldn’t occur.”
Ogg mentioned different election-related investigations are ongoing and there might be extra prices as soon as they’re full.