Lawsuit seeks to have Bexar judicial candidate thrown off primary ballot

Suit claims candidate Lisa Uresti-Dasher had discrepancies on sworn application, was untruthful about residency

Bexar County early voting for the March primary begins Monday, February 14, 2022.

SAN ANTONIO – A lawsuit filed in Bexar County this month seeks to have a candidate for the 285th District Court thrown off the primary ballot.

The suit, filed Dec. 17, accuses candidate Lisa Uresti-Dasher of having multiple discrepancies on her sworn application for the position. A hearing in the case is slated to start next week.

Uresti-Dasher’s primary opponent, attorney Nadine Nieto, filed the suit which also names the Bexar County Democratic Party. It comes roughly two months before the primary election, set to take place on March 1.

Contentious campaign

The 15-page lawsuit claims that Uresti-Dasher’s application filed with the Bexar County Democratic Party last month contained “several facial defects,” including using two versions of her name: Lisa Uresti-Dasher and Lisa Uresti Dasher.

“Thus, she has not filed a sworn application using her stated legal name as required by the Texas Election Code. Defendant Dasher, the Bexar County Democratic Party and (Bexar County Democratic Party Chair Monica) Alcantara are in violation of the Texas Election Code by insisting on including ‘Lisa Uresti-Dasher’ on the ballot for the Democratic Party primary because Dasher’s surname is ‘Dasher’ not ‘Uresti-Dasher’ as the name on the sworn application suggests. Dasher herself writes that her last name is Dasher on her application but swears to the application under a different name,” the suit states.

“Dasher’s attempt to use a name that is not her legal name on the ballot was not accidental but was done deliberately for the obvious purpose of attempting to gain a political advantage by emphasizing her Hispanic maiden name and to ride the coat tails of her father, Mr. Uresti, a longtime elected official in Bexar County, Texas. This is exactly the type of thing that the Legislature by these provisions of the Election Code was trying to prevent,” the lawsuit states.

Uresti-Dasher is the daughter of Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Albert Uresti and the niece of disgraced former Texas state senator Carlos Uresti, who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for federal fraud and money laundering convictions.

The lawsuit also states that Uresti-Dasher provided inaccurate information about how long she has lived in the state of Texas as well as the district the court represents, Bexar County.

“Dasher, using her non-legal name, swears that she has lived in the State of Texas for the last 40 years and has lived in the district for the last 35 years,” the suit states.

Reached by telephone Wednesday, Uresti-Dasher acknowledged living in Pennsylvania while her husband went through medical training as well as living in Minnesota and Wisconsin while attending law schools in those two states.

Uresti-Dasher also lived, for a time, in Harris County, according to her and a check of public records.

A judge denied a request to grant a temporary restraining order in the case Tuesday. The suit is scheduled for a hybrid in-person/virtual hearing Jan. 4.

Uresti-Dasher has been subpoenaed to appear, along with Alcantara, who did not respond to a request seeking comment for this story.

The subpoena for Uresti-Dasher instructs her to provide a number of items related to her background, including her driver’s license, voter registration card and documents related to her past employment.

“It’s unfortunate my opponent has gone this route,” said Uresti-Dasher, who referred to Nieto’s lawsuit as a “Hail Mary” attempt to get her removed from the ballot.

The suit also states that when applying for a vacancy in the 144th District Court, following the death of Judge Ray Olivarri last year, Uresti-Dasher “swore she had lived in Texas for the last 3 years and had lived in the district for the last 3 years.”

Asked about the apparent discrepancy Wednesday, Uresti-Dasher told the KSAT 12 Defenders, “That was a mistake, I guess, on my part,” before pointing out that was an application that later went before Democratic precinct chairs and not onto a ballot for a vote by the general public.

Reached by telephone Wednesday, Uresti-Dasher’s attorney Doug Ray told the Defenders his client is eligible to be on the ballot and that he believes the suit lacks merit.

Pressed for additional information about his statement, Ray said Uresti-Dasher’s legal team would get into those details in court, if necessary.

Early voting for the March 1 primary is scheduled to begin February 14, according to the Texas Secretary of State.

“What this is about is the integrity of the bench, the integrity of the elections. I guess she felt that putting the truth down is not something that she wanted the public to see,” Nieto said via telephone Wednesday.

Court records, letters sent by camps for both candidates and comments from each candidate show significant bad blood between the two sides ahead of early voting.

Dec. 7, an attorney representing Uresti-Dasher sent Nieto and her campaign manager a cease and desist notice, accusing them of defaming his client and making false statements about her qualifications and integrity as a candidate, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Defenders.

A letter sent to Alcantara by attorneys for Nieto Dec. 8 pointed out many of the same alleged discrepancies contained in the lawsuit and demanded that Uresti-Dasher’s application be rejected by the Democratic party.

When asked for comment about the suit Wednesday, Uresti-Dasher listed several tax liens filed against Nieto in the past.

Nieto acknowledged resolving and being released from federal liens after agreeing to pay an amount less than what the IRS at first demanded. She claimed the matter was incorrectly filed as two liens and pertained to a single tax matter.

Nieto acknowledged being the subject of three, much smaller tax liens filed at the state level but said she had resolved all of them and that they had occurred so long ago she could no longer speak to what they were about.

Both candidates, coincidentally, are graduates of South San Antonio High School who completed undergraduate studies at the University of Texas.

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About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.