On Wednesday, June 26, 2024, The Associated Press reported that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo was fined $500 by the Texas Ethics Commission for endorsing a political candidate during a press conference that used public funds and resources.

According to the article, Judge Hidalgo held a press conference last November at the Harris County Administration building where she endorsed Sean Teare, who was challenging District Attorney Kim Ogg in the March Democratic primary election. The article states that Hidalgo criticized Ogg, a fellow Democrat she has often disagreed with, during the press conference and said she was excited to take on Ogg during the primary.

A complaint was subsequently filed with the Texas Ethics Commission, arguing that Hidalgo used county funds and resources to campaign for Teare in violation of state law. Under Texas law, public officials are prohibited from using government funds and property for political purposes. The commission agreed that Hidalgo broke this law by endorsing Teare at the taxpayer-funded press event.

As a result, Hidalgo was ordered to pay a $500 fine by the ethics commission. While she acknowledged using public resources improperly, Hidalgo maintained her actions were still appropriate. However, to avoid further legal costs and focus on her County duties, Hidalgo agreed to the penalty.

The article provides context that Hidalgo and Ogg have been political opponents, noting Ogg’s office criminally indicted three of Hidalgo’s former aides over a county contract. It also explains Teare defeated Ogg in the March primary as expected and will face Republican Dan Simons in November’s general election.

In wrapping up, the article outlines that Texas Republicans have targeted various Harris County initiatives since Hidalgo took office in 2019. This includes efforts to expand ballot access in 2020 as well as a lawsuit against the county’s guaranteed income program for low-income residents, signaling the Texas Supreme Court will likely end the program.



Source: The Associated Press