Posts by Christine Welborn

Tarrant JP Ritchie’s Former Court Administrator Sentenced

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Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Gary Ritchie’s former court administrator Shelly Ables has been sentenced to 42 months in prison. Ritchie’s 23 year employee, campaign treasurer, and close friend received her sentence for stealing over $65,000 in cash from the court in which she worked.

Direct Action Texas first broke this story in July of 2017 when Tarrant County Auditor Renee Tidwell submitted an audit of JP Ritchie’s court initially showing $19,000 worth of missing funds. Then in September of 2017, Shelly Ables was indicted on 7 counts including unlawfully acquiring property valued between $20,000 and $100,000, mishandling property for which she was a fiduciary, and multiple counts of making a false entry on a governmental record with intent to defraud. Ables pleaded guilty to one count of theft by a public servant, one count of misapplication of fiduciary property, and five counts of tampering with a government document.

Ables committed her crimes between April 2015 and October 2016, right under the nose of her close friend and employer, Gary Ritchie. Under Texas statute, Judge Ritchie is liable for all activities in his court, yet no charges have been filed against him. All the blame has fallen on the shoulders of Ables who has made full restitution and will now spend three and a half years in prison.

While Ritchie remains clear of criminal prosecution, the voters have held him accountable. Ritchie failed to secure the Republican nomination, finishing last behind the two other candidates. Republican Jason Charbonnet now faces Democrat Deborah Hall and Libertarian Derek Thorn for the Justice of the Peace, Precinct 6 seat.

 

Vote Early, Vote Twice in Travis and Williamson Counties

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Due to errors on the first round of ballots mailed to voters, thousands in Travis and Williamson Counties will receive two ballots for the November 6thElection. Both counties claim they are on top of the problem, but this situation will raise serious questions about the validity of the vote counts. The two counties are already dodging questions about the exact number of incorrect ballots that were sent and for which voting districts.

Williamson county sent an estimated 8,000 ballots that omitted William Bryan Strange III, Libertarian candidate for presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Travis County sent an estimated 1,500 ballots omitting the certified write-in candidates. Those are not the actual numbers of incorrect ballots, however. The two counties are refusing to give an exact number or specifics on where those ballots were mailed and to whom. Election Law forbids the release of the names of voters who applied for ballot by mail until after the election. That law was not written for a case such as this, though, and an exception should be made.

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Texas Senate Candidate Raised Taxes But Didn’t Pay Her Own for Years

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Beverly Powell, candidate for Senate District 10 in Tarrant County, has had 8 different liens placed against her for unpaid taxes since 2003. According to tax lien documents, she owed over $20,000 in state and federal taxes. While on the Burleson ISD School Board she voted to raise the taxes of others, yet she wasn’t fully paying her own. This type of hypocrisy is a clear indication of the type of leadership she would provide, one which makes laws she believes she doesn’t have to follow. The residents of Senate District 10 deserve better.

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New Election Results Bring Justice

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It’s not just a victory for Tracy Gray, but a victory for all the voters whose voices were potentially stolen in the March Republican Primary in Kaufman County. Shortly after the Primary, Gray filed an Election Contest alleging that her election had been stolen. In April Judge Marty Lowy granted her a new election in the County Court at Law #1 race.  He ruled that 9 provisional ballots should have been counted and that at least 5 mail-in ballots should not have been counted, leading to results that could not be determined for one side or the other. Direct Action Texas reported on the election contest and went on to file election fraud complaints with the Secretary of State which lead to an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General.

The new election was held on July 21stThe results were drastically different.

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