Political candidates or their supporters pulling up opponents' signs? It must be election season.
A 27-year incumbent justice of the peace has apologized after her husband was caught on video pulling up her opponent's campaign signs. Precinct 4 Judge Jacquelyn Wright sent the apology just after noon Thursday to Chris Gregory, a Lake Worth police sergeant who is running against Wright in the Republican primary.
Video obtained by Gregory shows Wright's husband, Ross Ladart, pulling up Gregory's campaign signs and tossing them aside, just outside one of the entrances to the Tarrant County Northwest Subcourthouse in Lake Worth on Saturday.
In her apology, which she shared with the Star-Telegram, she walked back her original position that the whole thing was "somebody trying to make a big deal out of nothing," as reported by KXAS.
The apology read, "I would like to apologize for the acts of my husband last Saturday. ... He was wrong to pull them up, but he did not harm them in any way, and I see that they are back where they were. If I had known what he was going to do, I would of course, stopped him. But I didn't see him do it."
Gregory, 43, has already filed a report with the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office, and said he would also be filing a complaint against Wright with the Texas Ethics Commission.
Before issuing the apology, Wright said in a statement that the strip of land where Gregory's signs stood, along Telephone Road, was deemed a "forbidden strip" for campaign signs by Precinct 4 Commissioner J.D. Johnson. But she said in an interview Thursday that she was told that in the run-up to the 2014 election.
Gregory agrees that the strip is county property but says he was told that since it was more than 100 feet away from the door of the polling place at the courthouse annex, campaign signs were allowed to be there.
"I spoke with the commissioner's office, too," Gregory said. "There has never been such an order given. I think that's just an excuse Ms. Wright is using to get herself out of trouble. I was told 'absolutely not.'"
Tarrant County spokesman Marc Flake agrees with Gregory.
"It is outside the 100-foot distance from the entry of a polling place," Flake said.
Calls placed to Johnson's office were not immediately returned Thursday, but Gregory thinks Ladart and Wright's motives were more shady than just an issue of what the couple thought was improper placement of signs.
"If he was just 'moving' them, why didn't he move them?" Gregory said. "To me, this was more, 'this is my wife's court, how dare you.'"
Gregory said he got the video from the building's facilities director, but Wright said Precinct 4 Constable Joe "Jody" Johnson, the son of the commissioner, is in charge of security camera footage. She said Jody Johnson did not allow her to have a copy of the footage from a day two weeks ago when she says some of her campaign signs were stolen from a nearby location.
Wright was publicly sanctioned by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in December 2015 after offering a political opponent a favor on a court case if that opponent dropped efforts to kick Wright's name off the Republican Party primary ballot in 2014.
According to Wright's statement, she doesn't "mess with people's signs," and Gregory said he doesn't either.
"I just want to run a fair campaign. I'm not going to touch her signs," Gregory said. "I think we should let the voters decide who they want in office. Let's just run a fair campaign."
Wright said she was not worried about how the dust-up over the campaign signs might color color the rest of the primary. Voters will go to the polls to decide between Wright and Gregory on March 6.
No Democrats filed to run in the general election.
"I've got a job to do," Wright said. "And I can't let the efforts by a opponent to discredit me get in the way of that. Because that's all this really is."
"Call me if you need anything else. I'll be here another four years."