The indictments involve races for Texas House Districts 132 and 142.
Richard Bonton and Natasha Demming were indicted Friday on charges related to the House District 142 race against State Rep. Harold Dutton. Demming is accused of filing for candidacy under a false name, Natasha Ruiz. Ruiz received 20 percent of the vote on Election Day, forcing Dutton into a runoff.
WATCH: Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg describes the charges the two former state representatives and the political consultant were indicted for
Demming’s alleged alias attempt may have been a way to manipulate voters into supporting a Latino candidate to dilute Dutton’s voter base, Ogg said. She’s charged with two counts of felony tampering with a governmental record and misdemeanor perjury, election fraud, and conspiracy to commit tampering with a governmental record.
Investigators believe Demming conspired with Bonton to file for candidacy under a false name. Bonton is charged with felony tampering with a governmental record and two Class A misdemeanors.
Dutton, who has long represented House District 142 in northeast Houston, already faced a formidable challenger in Houston City Council Member Jerry Davis. Dutton went on to win re-election.
In what appears to be a separate attempt to impact an election, Damien Jones, a Democratic consultant, is accused of sending threatening text messages to State Rep. Gina Calanni of District 132.
Jones sent text messages in an attempt to convince Calanni to resign instead of running for re-election, according to Ogg. The threat was made on Dec. 2, 2019, just days before the 2020 election filing deadline, Ogg said.
Calanni reported the threat to the Texas Rangers, who investigated the allegations along with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Division.
Jones is charged with coercion of a public servant and false caller ID information display, both Class A misdemeanors. He could face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine if convicted.
“Those indicted today crossed the line from dirty politics to criminal activity and they will pay the price,” Ogg said.
Grand juries are convened in secret and determine whether there is enough evidence in a criminal case to proceed to trial. An indictment is not an indication of guilt.
This is a developing story and is being updated.