This story has been updated from top to bottom.
RICHMOND (Covering Katy News) - Members of the Democratic controlled Fort Bend County Commissioners Court held a closed door/executive session meeting to discuss whether to remove Republican Sheriff Troy Nehls from office over what they thought may have been election law violations that made him ineligible to continue to serve as Sheriff. The meeting was held Tuesday as part of the regular Commissioner's Court meeting agenda.
An internet campaign has been launched incorrectly claiming that Nehls had to step down because he's raised too much money for a possible run for Congress. The claims have been sent to this and likely other media organizations. This media outlet did not take the claims seriously. The claims did not pick up traction in other media outlets so it appears they did not take them seriously.
The claims have also been sent to Democrats who sit on the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court. County Judge K.P. George says the Democratic majority on Commissioners Court felt the claims needed further discussion so the issue was put on the executive session agenda at Tuesday's meeting.
"The Fort Bend County Judge's Office has received numerous inquires from residents about the "Resign to Run" statute, George said in a statement released Wednesday night.
This media organization reviewed its records and could only find two people who made the false claims to us about Nehls.
The County Attorney provided members of Commissioner's Court with "legal counsel" on the "Resign to Run" statute according to George. After hearing from the County Attorney the court decided not to take any action regarding Nehls.
Sheriff Nehls took to Twitter claiming that the meeting was the result of a much larger scheme to remove him from office.
"The Fort Bend county Commissioners Court intends to discuss removing me from office today at the 1 p.m. meeting," Nehls Tweeted earlier in the day.
The Republican Nehls claims Judge George wants to put a Democrat in his position.
"The Democratic County Judge has even met with other Dems to choose who 'he' would appoint to replace me," Nehls wrote. "I've done nothing wrong. A Dem-lead witch-hunt has now entered Fort Bend County. Sad!"
Nehls is expected to run for Congress. He has an exploratory committee that's started raising money. Those close to the Sheriff say he's done nothing wrong, that these issues are settled law and that they never should have needed to discuss them behind closed doors.
"Nehls hasn’t announced (that he's running) and the amount raised is irrelevant, said campaign treasurer Chad Norvell. "The Texas Attorney General has ruled previously that an official stating he is 'strongly considering' filing for another office is not an announcement either," Norvell said.
Norvell believes it's an attempt by a Democratic County Judge to remove a Republican Sheriff and replace him with a Democrat.
"We are also aware the County Judge (K.P. George) has held meetings with Democrats who are currently declared candidates as well as with one who ran previously as he was determining 'who he would appoint as Sheriff.' The meetings are disturbing as the Sheriff’s Office isn’t vacant. Additionally, the Judge isn’t empowered to appoint anyone if the office were to be vacated. Only the full Commissioner’s Court can do that," Norvell said.
Republican Commissioner Andy Meyers, who has feuded with Nehls in the past, stood up for Nehls in this instance. Commissioner Andy Meyers is the longest-serving Republican elected official in Fort Bend County.
"I can't go into detail about what was discussed in the closed session meeting of the court, but I'm able to report that I've upheld my earlier promise. There was no way that I was going to allow any action to take place that would have removed a Republican elected official from office. A 'no action' report is the right outcome today, and I'm very glad that this issue is now behind us," Meyers posted on his website.
George's Chief of Staff said there was nothing sinister about the meeting where Nehl's eligibility to serve as Sheriff was discussed.
"Closed session is the only time all the commissioners can get the same legal briefing from the county attorney due to the open meetings act," said Taral Patel, Chief of Staff for Judge George. "It made more sense for everybody to get the briefing especially because it's been a discussion in the public for quite some time to ensure that whatever information is presented allows the commissioner's Court to be on the same page."
Correction: This story originally identified Chad Norvell as a campaign chair and he is the campaign treasurer.