Democrats in Texas’ most populous county have reason to be concerned after two high-profile officials recently found themselves in hot water.
Fox News reported Sunday that Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo both face corruption allegations concerning government contracts.
Fox noted that Hidalgo has been subpoenaed by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office in regards to an $11 million vaccine outreach contract that was awarded to a company called Elevate Strategies.
Elevate Strategies was selected instead of UT Health, a major local hospital. That decision was made by a group of individuals who answer exclusively to Hidalgo.
The choice is, in part, suspicious because Elevate Strategies is run by Felicity Pereyra, a person Fox News describes as “a Democratic political insider with ties to the county commissioners court.”
What’s more, Pereyra previously worked on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign and her company has only been in business for two years.
When asked about the subpoena, Hidalgo told local reporters, “We have always followed the law, and we continue to follow the law. It is grassroots outreach. It’s the same kind of outreach you do with political outreach. We are at a point where it is a campaign for people to get vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, Turner has been accused by former Houston Housing and Community Development Director Tom McCasland of improperly naming a company owned by a former law partner as a “co-developer” on a $15 million housing contract.
Fox News stressed that Turner has denied any wrongdoing in the arrangement and has claimed that he was unaware that the firm was owned by his former partner.
Another source of suspicion is the fact that McCasland was fired from his position the same day the allegations against Turner came out, and shortly after Ogg announced she would be looking into the matter.
Carmen Roe, a defense lawyer who also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston School of Law, told Fox News that allegations against Hidalgo and Turner “could lead to criminal charges.”
“Both cases, at a value of greater than $300,000, are first-degree felonies,” the attorney said. “Which means they carry a possible punishment range of a minimum of five years in prison up to life in prison.”