Another day, another corrupt Democrat.
Texas Rangers on Friday morning raided the office of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and executed a search warrant related to an $11 million ‘vaccine outreach contract’ awarded to one of the judge’s political cronies, KHOU 11 News reported.
Recall, radical far-left judge Lina Hidalgo was one of the most aggressive and corrupted COVID tyrants in Texas during the pandemic.
In May 2020 Lina Hidalgo called on Texans to snitch on restaurants if they had big crowds.
Hidalgo also previously threatened 180 days in jail for those who opposed her stay at home orders.
Now she’s being investigated for canceling an $11 million vaccine contract after questions were raised that it was with a one-person firm with no experience.
KHOU 11 News reported:
HOUSTON — The Texas Rangers and investigators with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office executed search warrants Friday morning at multiple connections relating to an ongoing probe of a multi-million dollar county vaccine contract, KHOU 11 News has learned.
Texas Rangers were on the top floor of the Harris County Administration Building, sources told KHOU 11 News. While the offices of County Judge Lina Hidalgo were not part of the search warrant, the computers and phones of at least two of her staff members were seized, according to sources.
A spokesperson with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office confirmed the warrants were issued but gave no other details.
“A judge signed search warrants, which are legal authorization to search for and seize potential evidence of a crime,” Dane Schiller with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said. “Out of fairness for all parties involved, we have no additional comment at this time.”
At issue is a $10.9 million community vaccine outreach contract originally approved by Harris County Commissioners Court last June.
The vendor, Elevate Strategies, came under scrutiny for its inexperience in the field of public health outreach, and for alleged political ties to local Democratic party officials.
Commissioner Jack Cagle originally voted against approving the contract.
“It smelled from day one,” Cagle said Friday. “I trust that the Texas Rangers are going to do their due diligence to make sure what all the facts are and all the shenanigans that went along with it.”
Cagle and Judge Hidalgo had verbally clashed over the issue at previous public meetings. At one point, Hidalgo saying, “Bring it on because there is nothing there.”
The judge ultimately canceled the contract amid the controversy.
A spokesperson for the county judge’s office Friday referred questions to Hidalgo’s personal attorney Ashlee McFarlane.
“The judge has the strictest ethical guidelines ever imposed in Harris County and that’s been ironclad from day one,” McFarlane said. “This is nothing but political theater since the devices would have been provided on request. What’s missing is any shred of evidence, but what’s in abundance is politics,” she said.
Within hours of the executed search warrant, candidates for Harris County Judge in the upcoming elections reached out to KHOU with statements.
“This controversial deal that has never passed the “smell test” happened over 6 months ago and Harris County taxpayers still don’t know the truth,” a spokesperson for Republican candidate Alexandra Del Moral Mealer said in a statement. “Time and time again, we see that Lina Hidalgo prioritizes political patronage over the interests of Harris County. This is shameful behavior by our County Judge. It shouldn’t take subpoenas to force Lina Hidalgo to tell the truth about an $11 million contract given to a political crony. Leadership starts with accountability – it can’t always be someone else’s fault. At least voters will have the chance to replace Lina.”
Mealer’s opponent in the May 24 Republican Primary runoff, Vidal Martinez, also released a statement.
“After months of withholding evidence while under a criminal investigation, Lina Hidalgo’s office is being raided by law enforcement including Texas Rangers and have seized boxes of documents and evidence on the Elevate Strategies case where Lina awarded an $11 million contract to her political crony,” Martinez said. “In order [to] restore confidence in our county government, we once again call on Lina Hidalgo to resign immediately. As a former federal prosecutor and international attorney, I have spent decades handling national and worldwide investigations on corruption, and as County Judge, I will ferret out corruption at Commissioner’s Court.”
Elevate Strategies, run by Felicity Pereyra, won the contract in June 2021, beating out much larger health care companies, which had also bid. A call to Pereyra Friday morning has not been returned.
Amidst controversy over the hiring, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo canceled the deal months later. But, county documents obtained by 13 Investigates show the county still paid nearly $1.4 million on the contract as it wound down.
Hidalgo’s spokesperson did not comment and referred questions to the judge’s law firm. Lawyers there have not yet returned calls.
Some of money paid to Elevate and the equipment purchased with it was returned by the contractor to Harris County.
The county asked for $207,524 of the $1,425,237 it paid Elevate Strategies back. The company refunded the county $177,1813.54 on Sept. 29, 2021, and the remaining $30,342.70 on Oct. 26, 2021.
Invoices and refund checks obtained by 13 Investigates shows the company refunded the county for the cost of “50 one-year unlimited data plans for 50 tablets” and “digital ad reservations.”
In November 2021, the Harris County district attorney demanded documents from multiple county offices examining how the county selected a vendor for an $11 million vaccine outreach contract.
13 Investigates sources confirmed then that commissioners’ offices received subpoenas requesting documents from January 2021 until November 2021. The broad request asked not only about the winning firm, but other bidders as well.
Elevate Strategies is a small Houston firm and the contract was designed to reach unvaccinated people in Harris County to convince them to get vaccinated.
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