District judge under indictment plans campaign

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Harris County judge charged with using campaign funds on jewelry, luxury items, her mortgage and more, has announced she's still running for re-election in 2020.

Alexandra Smoots-Thomas served on the bench of the 164th Civil District Court for 10 years before her suspension earlier this month. She's charged with 10 counts of wire fraud, with prosecutors alleging she diverted campaign funds for non-campaign expenses. She pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors claim she used $25,000 in campaign funds to pay for items like a luxury handbag, a $700 ring, her children's school tuition, and her mortgage.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Smoots-Thomas said she will be on the ballot and hopes to win re-election.

"It is official!!! I will be back on the ballot in 2020! I am seeking re-election to the 164th Civil District Court! Thank you for all the support as I have been and continue to battle breast cancer. Now I need your help to battle for re-election!!! Look for updates soon!" the post read.

Smoots-Thomas was indicted last month by a grand jury. Her attorney, Kent Schaffer, said the investigation began when FBI agents informed her that an anonymous complaint of bribery had been brought to their attention.

"They said they found nothing, but then told her they had discovered some issues with her campaign expenses," he told ABC13 when the charges were announced on November 8.

"She also paid for some campaign expenses out of her own money," he said. "At the end of this, she may be owed money."

The situation is complicated by Thomas' health. She was diagnosed with breast cancer within the past year, had a mastectomy, and is continuing to undergo treatment. She hasn't been hearing cases due to her health.

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