EXCLUSIVE: Arlington council candidate under criminal probe for threats against state rep's family

The candidate sent sexually suggestive and obscenity-laced threats through messages online, and visited the state rep's home to deliver a threatening letter

  • Matthew Powers, 35, is a candidate for Arlington City Council
    Matthew Powers, 35, a candidate for Arlington City Council, is under criminal investigation for sending sexual and obscene threats to a state representative's wife. (Courtesy Facebook)
Zack Maxwell

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article contains mature and suggestive language. 

A candidate attempting to win an Arlington City Council seat is the person responsible for sending anonymous threats and lewd messages to a State Representative’s wife.

The Arlington Voice has discovered that Matthew Powers, a 35-year-old candidate running for Arlington’s District 5 city council seat, is involved in a criminal investigation for sending abusive and obscenity-laced messages threatening State Rep. Tony Tinderholt’s then-pregnant wife, Bethany.

The arrest warrant -- obtained exclusively by the Arlington Voice -- paints a darker portrait of a candidate whose campaign is based on the idea of creating a “more helpful government.”

“I’ll let you suck my d*** to get you started. How’s a dollar sound? I’ll give you five for a***. S***bag.”

That was just one of several vulgar messages sent from a Twitter account controlled by Powers to Bethany Tinderholt in February 2016.

In another message, Powers suggested he had jumped over a property fence and picked open locks to their house. “Better get new ones,” he added.

“...also (sic) I hope one of your kids gets r****d by a pedophile or killed by someone texting. You can thank your husband for that,” Powers wrote in another message.

The communications were enough to alarm the Tinderholt family, who reported the messages to Arlington Police and filed the harassment report.

It didn’t take long for investigators to trace the anonymous Twitter messages to an Internet Protocol address which was eventually found to be connected to Powers.

But the harassment wasn’t limited to Twitter messages. Surveillance footage from a neighbor’s house allegedly shows Powers hand-delivering a threatening, handwritten letter to what he thought was the Tinderholt’s residence. Instead, the letter was placed in the mailbox of a neighbor.

The letter read: “I do love watching you Beth. I would hate to see something happen to you. See you again soon.”

The threats triggered protective detail to be provided to the Tinderholt family by the Texas Department of Public Safety and Arlington Police for weeks.

After connecting the anonymous Twitter account with Powers’ IP address, detectives secured a probable cause arrest warrant.

As a condition of bond, which is set at $2,500, Powers was ordered to wear a GPS monitor and stay away from the Tinderholt family. An employee for Tarrant County said that other conditions were included in the order, but it wasn’t immediately clear what those conditions are.

The case is still being tried in the Tarrant County Criminal Court system, so Tony Tinderholt would not comment.

Multiple calls and voicemails left on Powers’ phone went unanswered, as did an e-mail and multiple calls to his attorney. Nobody answered at his home when the Arlington Voice knocked late Tuesday afternoon.

Powers is running for the District 5 City Council position, which is currently held by incumbent Councilwoman Lana Wolff. His candidate application states he works as a “consultant.” A review of his website suggests the work is graphic design-related.

Arlington maintains qualifications to run for City Council. Being involved in an active criminal investigation is not listed as a disqualifier.

Powers is expected to return to court for sentencing. His charge -- harassment, a class B misdemeanor -- carries a potential jail sentence of 180 days.

CLICK HERE to read the full arrest warrant affidavit