After the Texas Rangers began looking into tampering claims within Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s office, the Rangers have now been referred to investigate another separate criminal complaint filed against her.

The complaint—obtained by The Texanoriginated from a November 10 press conference held by Hidalgo after news broke that Texas Rangers opened a public corruption investigation into her office to locate “concealed” records concerning an $11 million COVID-19 vaccine outreach contract awarded to Elevate Strategies. 

Hidalgo accused Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg of “abusing her powers” with the investigation. She also publicly announced that she spent the day before the press conference working on an endorsement for Ogg’s opponent, Sean Teare, calling him a “well-respected, very experienced, strong opponent.”

The press conference was held on county property and live-streamed on the official social media accounts of the county judge’s office. 

According to the Texas Election Code, using an elected office to participate in political advertising is a Class A misdemeanor. Under the Penal Code, misuse of government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the government is considered an “Abuse of Official Capacity.” 

After the press conference, attorney Mark McCaig filed a civil complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission, as well as a criminal complaint with Harris County Constable Precinct 4 Mark Herman. Herman then referred the investigation to the Texas Rangers. Following the complaint, the press conference broadcast was removed from the county’s social media sites.

In addition to facing the complaint over political advertising, Hidalgo is also facing an investigation into her office for tampering claims. 

In 2022, three of Hidalgo’s staffers, Alex Triantaphyllis, Wallis Nader, and Aaron Dunn, were indicted on felony charges following an investigation into an $11 million COVID-19 jab outreach contract. Hidalgo herself is being reviewed for her alleged participation in the scheme to sideline the University of Texas Health Science Center in favor of Elevate Strategies, a local company founded by Felicity Pereyra.

Two weeks ago, it was reported that Hidalgo reversed course after denying she used encrypted communication for county business. The latest search warrant from the Texas Rangers’ investigation indicated the office concealed the following evidence: 

  • WhatsApp and SMS messages showing Hidalgo and her staff believed that the majority of the Harris County Commissioners Court were going to vote against funding the Targeted Community Vaccine Outreach project and used Hidalgo’s emergency authorization powers to bypass the voting process and award $10,973,000 to Elevate Strategies, a one-woman firm with ties to Democrat operatives; and
  • WhatsApp messages had been deleted after the initiation of the Grand Jury investigation.

Texas Scorecard reached out to Hidalgo’s office but did not receive a response by publication. 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.