Texas Commissioner Candidate Charged for Fabricating Fake Online Racist Messages

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
June 17, 2024US News
Texas Commissioner Candidate Charged for Fabricating Fake Online Racist Messages
Taral Patel in a mugshot taken on June 12, 2024. (Fort Bend County Jail)

The Democratic challenger for Fort Bend County Precinct 3 commissioner in Texas has been charged for creating a fake social media account for the purpose of directing racist comments at himself.

Taral Patel, 30, was arrested last week after an investigation was requested by his incumbent Republican opponent, Commissioner Andy Meyers, according to an arrest warrant.

Mr. Patel is facing a third-degree felony charge of online impersonation and a Class A misdemeanor charge for misrepresentation of identity.

The arrest followed accusations by Mr. Patel in September last year that supporters of the Republican commissioner hurled racist comments at him on his social media account. His online post included a collage of racist messages he allegedly received.

One account name, “Anthony Scalywag,” caught Mr. Meyers’s attention. He told investigators that he recognized the account as someone who had previously launched attacks against him.

An investigation was launched the following month, which traced the origin of one of the accounts back to Mr. Patel, records show. The Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office subpoenaed Facebook and Google to reveal identifying account information for the Facebook account and email address of “Antonio Scalywag.”

The account data was found to match Mr. Patel’s address, phone number, Texas driver’s license number, IP address, and additional personal information. According to the warrant, the grand jury subpoena to Google also returned billing information that listed a credit card number under the name “Taral Patel.”

Moreover, the investigation found that the profile picture used for the fake account belonged to another man and was allegedly obtained without his permission.

According to his LinkedIn, Mr. Patel served as chief of staff for Fort Bend County Judge KP George from 2018 to 2021. He also served as a law clerk for the Department of Justice and was previously appointed by President Joe Biden to serve in his administration as a liaison for the White House, according to Mr. Patel’s campaign website.

Fort Bend County’s GOP Chair Bobby Eberle responded to the arrest in a statement on X.

Mr. Eberle compared the incident to that of Jussie Smollett, saying residents of Bend County deserve better from a commissioner. “Whether Republican or Democrat, such tactics should be unequivocally condemned by all who value integrity and accountability in politics,” he wrote.

Mr. Patel’s arrest on June 12 was followed by his release on bond the following day, which was set at $20,000 for the felony and $2,500 for the misdemeanor.

He is due to appear in court next on July 22.

NTD contacted Mr. Patel and Mr. Meyer’s office for comments, but did not receive a response before press time.