Primary Voters Beware... Could Judge Lina Hidalgo be Indicted for Corruption Later this Year?
Updated: May 19, 2022
Based on recent media reports (see links below), Democratic primary voters need to consider the very real possibility that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (and others) could be under indictment for corruption later this year. This potential scandal concerns whether Judge Hidalgo and/or her high-level staff allegedly "rigged" the county bidding process to award an $11-million-dollar contract to "Elevate Strategies LLC" last year. Elevate Strategies is allegedly a "one-woman" company created and operated by Ms. Felicity Pereyra, reportedly a Democratic political operative who previously worked on one of Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia's political campaigns. The appearance of political cronyism and corruption was so bad, and the media attention so intense, that Judge Hidalgo and Commissioners Court later rescinded the contract award (but not before Elevate Strategies ended up being paid over 1.2 million dollars). Several months ago, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg issued subpoenas to county officials regarding this matter, and she could present her findings to a Harris County Grand Jury later this year. In addition, since the awarded contract reportedly included federal pandemic relief funds, there is the possibility that state and/or federal authorities could also look into this matter. While Judge Hidalgo has adamantly denied any wrong-doing, voters need to fully consider this on-going matter before casting their vote in the upcoming primary (election day is 3/1/22). If Judge Hidalgo wins the Democratic primary but is then indicted later this year, Republicans would probably have a good chance of defeating her in the November general election.
For some of the media reports, please click on the links below:
For my opinions and concerns posted after this contract was awarded, please see the link below:
UPDATE 3/11/22: According to the local media, the Texas Rangers executed search warrants this morning at the Harris County Administration Building, to include two offices used by County Judge Lina Hidalgo's high-level staff. I think it is reasonable to speculate that authorities also have search warrants for all applicable e-mails, text-messages, phone records, etc. surrounding the awarding of this contract, to include those to/from the subcontractors listed in the Elevated Strategies LLC bid proposal. In the U.S., a person is assumed innocent until proven guilty. That said, if what appears to have happened last year actually did happen, then the first participant to cut a deal with prosecutors will walk and everyone else will take the fall. When applicable, that realization can often motivate a person to come forward. Stay tuned.
For some of the relevant media reports from this morning, please see below:
UPDATE 3/18/22: Based on the details in the search warrant, investigators have already uncovered a large amount of evidence showing that County Judge Lina Hidalgo's high-level staff provided Felicity Pereyra (Elevate Strategies LLC) with the county's draft Request for Proposals (RFP), to include the scope of work, about a month prior to the RFP being sent out for competitive bids. In addition, while on the RFP Selection Committee, these officials then allegedly conspired to ensure Elevate Strategies LLC was awarded the county contract. At minimum, these officials appear guilty of committing two felonies: Tampering with a government document and misuse of official information.
In the search warrant, there are also references to "JLH" in the staff text messages, which indicates that Judge Lina Hidalgo was directly involved in this contract fiasco (in some way). While Judge Hidalgo may eventually claim her senior employees went rogue and acted on their own, the reality is high-level, appointed officials in the County Judge's Office get paid to follow the orders of their elected official (the County Judge). It's hard to imagine one, much less three, of Hidalgo's high-level staff acted without direct orders from their boss. Frankly, it appears felony indictments are now very likely. Stay tuned.
For more information, please see the media links below:
UPDATE 4/8/22: A newly released search warrant reportedly named the Google accounts of six senior staff members of the Harris County Judge’s Office, including Judge Lina Hidalgo herself. Investigators reportedly seized a total of fourteen Google files relevant to their investigation. For more information on this development, please see the media links below:
UPDATE 4/11/22: Today, three of County Judge Lina Hidalgo's top office staff members, including her Chief of Staff, were indicted on felony charges related to the $11 million dollar contract awarded to Elevate Strategies LLC last year. Now, we just need to wait and see if one (or more) of the indicted staff decide to make a deal with prosecutors and testify against anyone else who may have been involved. I think we all know where this is headed...
For more information on the felony indictments, please click on the media links below:
UPDATE 5/19/22: Yesterday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo stated she expects to be indicted in the alleged bid-rigging corruption scandal that has already led to the indictments of three of her top staffers. Judge Hidalgo attacked Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, stating that the investigation into the Elevate Strategies LLC contract is politically motivated (of note, Hidalgo and Ogg are both Democrats). DA Ogg denies politics is involved, stating that the investigation is based on the evidence and facts. When presented with the evidence, a grand jury indicted Hidalgo's top staff, with the criminal investigation still on-going. Now, it is possible that one (or more) of Hidalgo's indicted staff is cooperating with DA investigators (made a plea-bargain deal) so, as more evidence comes to light, more felony indictments may indeed be forthcoming. Stay tuned...
For more information, please click on the media links below:
Disclosure: In the upcoming Democratic primary, HarrisCountyDemocrats.com has fully endorsed Democratic challenger Erica Davis for Harris County Judge. Mrs. Davis has experience as a Precinct 1 Constables Office Chief of Staff and is currently a member of the Harris County Department of Education. We believe Mrs. Davis' proven integrity and strong background in administration, law enforcement, education, and community engagement make her an outstanding Democratic candidate for Harris County Judge. In the fall general election, we believe Erica Davis gives the Harris County Democratic Party the best chance for victory.
To view our candidate endorsement page, please click on the link below:
UPDATE: Unfortunately, Judge Hidalgo defeated Erica Davis in the Democratic primary. In our opinion, Democrats are now stuck with a seriously flawed candidate who has significant ethical (and, perhaps, legal) issues.
FOR MORE POSTS, please routinely check HarrisCountyDemocrats.com.