HOUSTON — After the felony indictments of three staffers in Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's office, the exchanges continue between two of the county's top elected officials.
On Thursday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg blasted Hidalgo in a written statement over what she calls "nearly daily public misstatements" made by the county judge. Ogg said she felt compelled to comment about Hidalgo's recent remarks.
"Failing to do so allows a top county official, in her official capacity, to continue to improperly influence those people of Harris County who will serve on the jury in this case," Ogg said. "This harms everyone, including the accused, and must stop."
Ogg, a Democrat in her second term as district attorney, also accused Hidalgo of publicly revealing information not previously known by authorities.
"Judge Hidalgo has referred to case evidence, to information (that) the investigators and prosecutors don’t have," Ogg said. "She has an ethical duty and responsibility to provide any evidence under oath to the Texas Rangers and she should do so immediately."
Hidalgo had this to say in response to Ogg's most recent comments:
“It’s absurd for Kim Ogg to say she ‘will not try this case in the court of public opinion,’ when she has been releasing a cascade of leaks about this political exercise all along.
The County Judge’s Office and staff have cooperated with this investigation from the outset and produced over 24,000 pages of documents. Kim Ogg had an “ethical duty and responsibility” to view that evidence objectively and seek the truth, not pursue a predetermined, politically motivated outcome parroting the false allegations of my right-wing opponents.
All of the evidence the DA’s Office has had for months makes clear there was no quid pro quo, no inside job, no conspiracy – nothing. Numerous media outlets have shown how her allegations distort the truth. Everyone needs to be aware that this is a politically motivated exercise that is taking place in the middle of my reelection and no amount of posturing by her will make false allegations true.
I agree with Kim Ogg on one point - justice will prevail. This will be exposed as an election year stunt.”
Aaron Dunn, Wallis Nader and Alex Triantaphyllis were indicted in April in connection with a canceled $11 million COVID vaccine outreach contract.
Hidalgo, a Democrat serving her first term as county judge, has called the investigation and indictments politically motivated. She accused Ogg of trying to interfere with her campaign for re-election.
“It’s okay to have a personal problem with somebody, I don’t know if that’s the case, but it’s not okay to pursue a political vendetta, a political exercise under the guise of a criminal investigation,” Hidalgo said.
Staffers began communicating with Elevate Strategies CEO Felicity Pereyra about vaccine community outreach in January 2021, a month before a request for proposal on the subject became public, according to a search warrant executed in March.
Investigators believe Triantaphyllis, Nader, and Dunn gave insider information about the contract. They are also accused of conspiring to block another company from getting that contract. Lawyers for the three maintain their clients' innocence.