On Friday, April 12, 2024, the Star-Telegram reported that a candidate for the Tarrant County Appraisal District board believes the county judge crossed an ethical line in his involvement in the race.

According to the article, Chuck Kelley, a Colleyville city council member running for Place 3 on the board, said Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare told him not to run for the position just minutes after Kelley filed his candidacy application in January. State law requires candidate applications to be submitted to the county judge.

Kelley claimed that during a phone call on his way home, O’Hare told him “as a friend” that he should not run against another candidate, identified as Matt Bryant, a real estate investor also seeking the Place 3 seat. If elected, board members would help oversee property tax appraisals and exemptions in Tarrant County.

In an online campaign post, Kelley argued it was inappropriate for O’Hare to be actively involved in the nonpartisan race since the county judge’s office handles initial candidate filing procedures. Kelley believed O’Hare aimed to control the board by endorsing Bryant plus candidates Eric Morris and Callie Rigney for the other two vacant seats.

However, O’Hare maintained that as the filing authority, his sole responsibility was receiving applications and that the Tarrant Appraisal District managed the election process. He denied having the power to control the board. While acknowledging his endorsements of Bryant, Morris, and Rigney, O’Hare said he wanted to elect advocates for taxpayers seeking reform and transparency at the appraisal district.

An Austin attorney specializing in election law, Susan Hays, was quoted in the article saying it was unethical for O’Hare in his filing authority position to weigh in on candidates, asserting that choice rightfully belongs to voters. Early voting for the May 4 election was set to begin on April 22.



Source: Star-Telegram