Uresti-Dasher outpacing Nieto in contributions and spending in bitter district court judge race

Winner of 285th District Judge race in March 1 Democratic primary moves on to face Republican Mark Thompson in the November election

Nadine Nieto (left) and Lisa Uresti-Dasher (right) are vying for judge of the 285th District Court. (Joshua Saunders, KSAT)

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Democratic district court judge candidate Lisa Uresti-Dasher outpaced opponent Nadine Nieto in both campaign contributions and spending, according to their latest filings with the Texas Ethics Commission.

The two attorneys are vying to win the March 1 Democratic primary for the 285th District Judge seat, in what has been the most contentious race for a judge position in Bexar County in recent memory.

For the campaign reporting period covering Jan. 21 through Feb. 19, Uresti-Dasher reported receiving $6,241 in political contributions. She made nearly $69,000 in political expenditures during the same period, Texas Ethics Commission records show.

Additionally, Uresti-Dasher loaned her campaign $3,000, records show.

For the same campaign reporting period covering Jan. 21 through Feb. 19, Nieto reported receiving $700 in political contributions. Nieto made more than $32,000 in political expenditures during the same period, records show.

Nieto in late January and then again in early February injected a total of $25,000 into her campaign in the form of two loans.

State records show Uresti-Dasher submitted a corrected contribution report earlier this year, for the reporting period covering Jan. 1 through Jan. 20.

Reached via email this week about the corrected report, Uresti-Dasher wrote, “As for the corrected report, I am not exactly sure what was corrected. I believe I saw some things appear in statements that I hadn’t seen the moment I submitted my report or I made a clerical report.”

The corrected report states that it included amounts from prior periods as well as some small amounts that hadn’t posted yet.

The campaign has been marked by bad blood between the two sides dating back to last year.

Nieto late last year filed a lawsuit claiming that Uresti-Dasher’s application for the judge position contained “several facial defects” that made the application invalid.

A two-day virtual hearing to determine Uresti-Dasher’s political fate revealed an ongoing dispute between the two campaigns.

The hearing focused on whether Uresti-Dasher had applied using her legal name and had provided inaccurate information about how long she has resided in Texas and Bexar County.

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.

At the conclusion of the hearing visiting Judge John Gabriel denied Nieto’s request for a temporary injunction, allowing Uresti-Dasher to remain on the primary ballot.

A Defenders investigation last month revealed that Nieto was accused of defaulting on more than $100,000 in student loans and interest.

Nieto was sued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2010 after they alleged she owed $101,580.20 in student loans and accrued interest. Nieto has also been the subject of multiple liens, tax lawsuits and court filings dating back to the late 1990s, the KSAT 12 Defenders found.

After the government was awarded a judgment for the full amount in early 2012, Nieto appealed the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, records show.

Nieto said she agreed to drop the appeal later that year as part of a confidential settlement that required her to pay back around $78,000, about $30,000 less than what the amount she owed had ballooned to at that point.

Nieto said she made a lump sum payment of $10,000 and then payments of just over $328 a month for close to a decade.

She cleared the final approximately $6,000 owed in early September, but disputes that the payment was made because she had decided to run for judge of the 285th District Court.

“I do know it has nothing to do with me running for office, if that’s the implication,” Nieto told the Defenders last month.

“It’s concerning. It’s concerning that Nadine Nieto would run for this position, despite her background and despite her habitual disregard for the law. It appears she’s unfit to be judge,” Uresti-Dasher said when asked about her opponent’s past financial issues.

The winner of the Democratic primary for 285th District Court will face Republican Mark Thompson in the November election.


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.