Lina Hidalgo endorses Sean Teare for district attorney amid criminal probe of her office

Tom Abrahams Image
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Lina Hidalgo endorses Sean Teare for DA amid criminal probe of office
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo endorses District Attorney Kim Ogg's opponent, former prosecutor Sean Teare, amid a criminal probe of her office.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- There are new developments Monday in the very public rift between Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and District Attorney Kim Ogg.

Hidalgo endorsed Ogg's opponent, Sean Teare, in the district attorney's bid for reelection. All three of them are Democrats, but as ABC13 has reported, there is no love lost between the judge and the DA.

"We are going to fight, and we are going to win at the ballot box," Hidalgo said when endorsing Teare at a Monday afternoon rally downtown.

Teare is a well-known former prosecutor who has claimed Ogg is using the office for political purposes.

"I want to be intentional with how we prosecute crimes," Teare said.

The endorsement on its face is interesting enough but is more complicated when one considers that it comes amid a criminal investigation into Hidalgo and her staff.

She has never been charged with any wrongdoing, but for more than a year, Ogg's office has investigated Hidalgo's office over a since-cancelled controversial COVID-19 outreach contract with Elevate Strategies.

Documents accuse the judge's team of illegally steering the contract toward the company. Three of the judge's staffers were indicted in 2022.

Then on Thursday, we learned of new search warrants which accuse Hidalgo of including Elevate Strategies' name while drafting the scope of the contract and of possibly tampering with evidence and withholding documents.

It's an investigation that could still be ongoing in 2025 after Teare would take office, should he win the election. When asked about the potential conflict, given the endorsement, Teare said he would review the case with the evidence in mind.

He has not seen the evidence in a case he has repeatedly called "politically motivated."

"The way that I would approach this case is the way I would approach every single case that is currently pending on January 1, 2025. I will look at them," Teare said. "I will look at every one of them. We're going to make a decision based on the facts and the evidence, without emotion, without anything else."

Rice University Baker Institute Political Fellow Mark Jones told ABC13 that the endorsement comes at a complicated juncture.

"For Teare, this is an endorsement that is a double-edged sword," Jones said. "On one hand, it's the endorsement of the sitting county judge, who is a well-known progressive. That's the positive. The negative, however, is that this is a county judge who is being investigated with a credible allegation that she tried to steer money for a government contract for COVID to a political operative who would, in turn, use that for political purposes."

Eyewitness News also reached out to Kim Ogg's campaign for comment.

They referred ABC13 to a statement she released on Friday, and it read in part, "(Hidalgo) conflated an ongoing Texas Rangers criminal investigation with her political endorsement of my challenger and engaged in a childish exercise in name-calling that has become all too common in our political process."

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