Altered image leads to calls of racism in Harris County Pct. 4 primary race

Candidate accused of altering opponent's photo

HOUSTON – On Monday morning, the runoff race in Harris County’s Precinct 4 heated up less than 24 hours before the opening of the polls with claims of racism.

“In 2022, we do not tolerate discrimination and racism in Democratic politics,” said candidate Ben Chou.

Chou’s comments came after the doctoring of an image by the campaign of his opponent, Leslie Briones.

“The most obvious differences you will see are my eyes... how they clearly changed the shape of my eyes. You will see the change to my mouth, my lips,” said Chou, in reference to identifiable changes.

The altered image was released on Wednesday, May 18, according to Chou, who also took issue with what he says is a stock photo of the Great Wall of China placed behind him.

“I take pride in being a Taiwanese and Chinese American,” said Chou.

Briones apologized to her opponent and the Asian community, saying, “the fault lies with a campaign graphic designer who used photoshop.” Briones announced the designer is no longer a part of her campaign.

“We are adults here in 2022. What are they thinking?” asked Chou during a news conference.

Altering the identity of a candidate in Texas is a Class A Misdemeanor, according to state statute.

“I think an argument can be made on both sides that this is criminal and not criminal activity,” said Mark Jones, a Rice University Political Science Professor.

Jones said one thing is for certain, the altering of the image is unethical.

“Ben Chou’s image was clearly altered by the Briones campaign to make it look negative,” Jones said.

Briones was not available for an interview on Monday, but in her apology statement, she rejected all of the charges and said that Chou is attempting to capitalize on the incident.

The winner of Tuesday’s run-off will face Precinct Four Incumbent Jack Cagle in November’s General Election.

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