Texas Democratic commissioner candidate charged with fabricating fake online racist messages

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The Democratic challenger for the Fort Bend County Precinct 3 commissioner in Texas is facing charges for allegedly creating fake social media posts writing racist comments directed at himself.

Commissioner Andy Meyers, the Republican incumbent, requested the Fort Bend County district attorney’s office begin an investigation in October into the social media posts directed at Taral Patel, his opponent, ABC 13 reported.

Meyers requested the investigation after Patel posted a statement last September with screenshots of various racial hate comments. Many of the usernames were concealed, but Meyers said he recognized an account named “Antonio Scalywag” as someone who had attacked him before.

Investigators found that the fake account used a photo of someone else and issued a subpoena to Facebook and Google. They were able to obtain data that matched Patel’s address, phone number, Texas driver’s license number, bank card number and other personal information, the outlet reported.

In his post online in September, Patel claimed the comments were examples of the “deep and misguided fear” from within the Republican Party.

Patel was arrested last Wednesday on a third-degree felony for online impersonation and a Class A misdemeanor charge for misrepresentation of identity.

His bond was set at $20,000 for the felony and $2,500 for the misdemeanor. He bonded out of the county jail early Thursday and has a court appearance scheduled for July 22, ABC 13 reported.

Fort Bend County’s GOP Chair Bobby Eberle said in a statement that the arrest was “deeply concerning.”

“Patel garnered widespread news coverage (like his former boss) for claiming that racist social media posts were made against him,” Eberle said in a statement, comparing him to actor Jussie Smollett.

Eberle said Fort Bend County residents deserve better than Patel’s action.

“Whether Republican or Democrat, such tactics should be unequivocally condemned by all who value integrity and accountability in politics,” he said.

ABC 13 noted that requests for comment from Patel went unanswered.

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