HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Tuesday responded to the indictments of three of her senior staff members charged with misusing official information and tampering with government records.
Investigators believe Alex Triantaphyllis, Wallis Nader, and Aaron Dunn gave insider information to a business seeking an $11 million contract with the county. They are also accused of conspiring to block another company from getting that contract. Lawyers for the three maintain their clients' innocence.
Judge Hidalgo took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon to make her feelings known. In a lengthy statement she said, it is "at best, a serious misunderstanding of the facts ... I will not cave to bullying or political dirty tricks."
The judge's campaign spokesperson, Toni Harrison, said Hidalgo was not available for an interview. So, she did the interview on her behalf.
“Why are you speaking on the judge's behalf today,” KHOU 11 investigative reporter Cheryl Mercedes asked.
“She's conducting county business, and with all of the indictments and all of the misguided information, it made sense to have someone represent the facts, and that's what I am here to do,” Harrison said.
Harrison talked to us about the search warrants last month in which investigators sought evidence, including Google document files, text messages and emails. The evidence included an apparent draft of the request for a vaccine outreach proposal last January with a note from a senior staffer to a vendor saying "let us know your thoughts and proposed budget after you've had a chance to review" and that they were "happy to discuss further if that would be helpful."
“Those text messages were not within the context of an RFP, and I think it's important to know that those conversations, you see, there was an opportunity internally for an internal contractor within the data analytics realm. That's what one of the conversations was about it was not about an RFP,” Harrison said.
Harrison said she and Judge Hidalgo believe that will come to light in court.
As for when the judge would be willing to discuss the indictments in an interview, Harrison said she could not be sure.
“I do anticipate that will happen. I cannot give you a timeline,” Harrison said.
Judge Hidalgo has said from the beginning that she believes her staffers are innocent. She echoed that in the statement she Tweeted on Tuesday afternoon, saying, “They will remain on my team."