Elections 2022JudicialLocal NewsTarrant County Judicial Candidate Involved in National BYU Racism Story

Democrat Lesa Pamplin was caught up in a national controversy due to a tweet she wrote about racial slurs during a collegiate volleyball game.
September 22, 2022
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Democratic candidate for Tarrant County Criminal Court 5 Lesa Pamplin has recently been embroiled in a national controversy involving a tweet she wrote, accusing fans of hurling racial slurs at her goddaughter Rachel Richardson each time she served during a collegiate volleyball game between Duke University and Brigham Young University (BYU).

The tweet said Richardson was called the epithet “every time she served” and “was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus.”

Pamplin, a criminal defense attorney, followed up by writing, “Not one freaking adult did anything to protect her. I’m looking at you @BYU. You allowed this racist behavior to continue without intervening. Apologizing to her parents after the fact is not enough. She will soon be sharing her story.”

Pamplin, who gave an exclusive Facebook video interview to Fort Worth activist and history enthusiast Larry Oneal, said she was out with volunteers on Saturday after the game when she got a call from her friend asking if Pamplin had seen her post about the incident.

Pamplin had not, but after reading it, she posted her tweet recounting what she was told. Pamplin was not at the game and was not a witness to the alleged slurs.

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Initially, BYU apologized for the incident and banned the accused fan from attending games, according to Deseret News. However, on September 9, BYU issued a press release saying it had conducted a thorough investigation of footage and reached out to over 50 people in attendance and had “not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event.”

Pamplin has her doubts about the results of the investigation. In the interview with Oneal, she remarked that “BYU has a sordid history” and cited a report released in February 2021 by BYU that noted minority students “often feel isolated and unsafe at BYU due to racism.”

She also said she has received offensive text messages and voicemails since the story broke.

After the tweet gained national attention, some news outlets screen-grabbed dozens of other tweets by Pamplin that contain derogatory remarks about white people. She has since locked her Twitter account from outside views.

  • October 2019: “Would expect nothing less than a pale white chic (sic). Sit down Becky.” 
  • April 2020: “Being married to a white woman he thinks he can talk this stupid a** nonsense. Clarence [Thomas] 2.0.”
  • December 2019: “Bernie Sanders rallies are so white.”
  • May 2022, about the Uvalde school shooting: “Faux News breathing a sigh of relief it’s not a white kid…” 

Pamplin said the screen-grabbed tweets were taken out of context.

In her interview with Oneal, she gave a brief explanation of a few of her posts. For instance, she said that one tweet about “elevating white men to hero status” was in response to the uprising on January 6.

Another derogatory tweet, Pamplin said, was referring to Shelley Luther during her battle with Dallas County to keep her hair salon open. Pamplin was praising Judge Eric Moye for holding her in contempt. “Judge Moyé ain’t playing with these crackers.”

Oneal asked Pamplin about her judicial temperament and fitness for office, to which she replied that she had served the community for six years as a police officer in Arlington and several more after that as a district attorney and never had any complaints or civil rights violations filed against her.

“I’m not a racist. They are not going to paint me as a racist,” Pamplin said.

Pamplin’s opponent for the judgeship Brad Clark told The Texan, “I have elected to stay above this disturbing controversy and focus on the work we need to do in that court. I believe her statements speak for themselves.”

Tarrant County Republican Party Chairman Rick Barnes remarked, “If she were to win the race, if you were white or Asian appearing in her court, you could ask for a recusal given her opinions. She jumped to a conclusion, and you just can’t do that especially in a judicial capacity.”

Judges in Texas abide by the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct which states in part, “A judge shall conduct all of the judge’s extra-judicial activities so that they do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge.”

Pamplin declined to answer questions posed by The Texan, instead referring us to the interview with Oneal.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.