The Texas Ethics Commission has accepted jurisdiction over a sworn complaint filed against Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. In a letter dated November 17, 2023, the Commission notified Judge Hidalgo that it had received a sworn complaint on November 10, 2023, alleging she violated state election law.

The complaint, numbered SC-32311310, claims Judge Hidalgo used county resources for political advertising during a November 10 press conference and in material posted online, in violation of Section 255.003(a) of the Texas Election Code. This section prohibits the use of public funds for political advertising.

As a Category Two violation, Judge Hidalgo has 25 business days from receiving the notice to respond in writing. She must either admit or deny the allegation and provide evidence to support her claim. Failure to respond could result in a separate violation and civil penalty.

The Commission’s Assistant General Counsel Mark Pillsbury signed the letter notifying Judge Hidalgo that the Commission accepts jurisdiction over the allegation, but this does not mean it has found a violation occurred.

Pillsbury advised Judge Hidalgo to preserve any documents or evidence related to the allegation. The letter also included copies of the sworn complaint, Commission rules, a statement of rights, and relevant election code statutes.

At this preliminary stage, Commission members and staff must keep the complaint and related documents confidential under Texas law. Judge Hidalgo now has until around December 12th to file a written response to the allegation.

Judge Hidalgo is the County Judge of Harris County, Texas. She was elected in 2018, defeating incumbent Ed Emmett, and became the first woman and Latina to hold the office. Her courtroom is located at 1001 Preston, Suite 911, Houston, Texas 77002, and can be reached at (713) 274-7000.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.