Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Russ Casey has dropped out of his re-election race after allegations surfaced that he forged signatures to get on the ballot, a county Republican Party official confirmed.
The Tarrant County Republican Party had been investigating the allegation that Casey, Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace, submitted fake signatures to get on the ballot in the March primary, WFAA reported on Monday.
The Tarrant County sheriff's department confirmed Wednesday that it was also investigating the forgery allegations.
In a letter announcing his withdrawal, Casey said county Republican Party chairman Tim O'Hare "is so biased against that he will stop at nothing to prevent my re-election."
"I no longer have confidence that a fair election can actually be held while he remains chairman," Casey wrote in the letter. "I do not feel it is in the best interest of the party for me to remain a candidate."
Lenny Lopez, one of Casey's challengers in the election, made the forgery accusation against Casey on Monday afternoon.
"As soon as I saw those signatures you could see it was just fraud," Lopez said.
Lopez asked the county party to remove the incumbent from the primary ballot before the first ones are printed in two weeks.
In Texas, to run for judicial positions, candidates must get at least 250 voters to sign a petition.
Lopez said some of Casey’s signatures looked like they were written with the same pen by the same person.
Deborah Pullano, a local school teacher, is among the names on Casey’s petition but she said the signature on the form is not hers.
“No, not even close,” she told WFAA.
When reached by phone shortly Monday afternoon, Casey told WFAA that Lopez’s “allegation is completely false” and that every signature came from bona fide voters.
“They’re all from real people,” Casey said. “They were all collected.”
But Aaron Harris, from Direct Action Texas which investigates electoral fraud, said he organized a team to go door-to-door over the weekend and ask individuals listed on Casey’s petition whether they actually signed it.
Several dozen people, Harris said, signed notarized affidavits explaining that they did not put their names on it. Those affidavits were turned over to the county party.
Casey, first elected in 2007, did not want to appear on camera on Monday and said he needed time to look at the allegation.
He also made headlines last year after a state court reprimanded him for having a sexual relationship with his clerk.