Democrat Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s chief of staff and two other staffers were indicted Monday on felony criminal charges related to an $11 million Covid vaccine outreach contract that was awarded to a Democrat insider.
The indictments come after Texas Rangers raided Judge Hidalgo’s offices last month.
The three staffers, Chief of Staff Alex Triantaphyllis, Wallis Nader and Aaron Dunn, were charged with misuse of official information and tampering with a government record after the contract was awarded to one-person company Elevate Strategies, LLC, a firm run by Democrat insider Felicity Pereyra, who at one time also worked for Hillary Clinton, according to Fox News.
KHOU has more:
An $11 million COVID vaccine outreach contract that was awarded to Elevate Strategies in June 2021 came under scrutiny after it was discovered some staffers of Judge Lina Hidalgo’s Office helped the vendor obtain inside information about the contract weeks before a request for proposal was open to the public. Staffers were said to also have worked to ensure another company didn’t win the contract, according to a search warrant.
The staffers reportedly began communicating with Elevate Strategies CEO Felicity Pereyra about the vaccine community outreach in January 2021, a month before a request for proposal on the subject became public, the search warrant said.
Four companies ultimately applied for the project after the request for proposal became public in February. The contract was awarded to Elevate Strategies in June 2021 but was later terminated in September 2021 due to the company’s inexperience with public health outreach and alleged ties to local Democratic party officials.
Click2Houston.com reports, “Calls to Judge Hidalgo’s Office have not been returned at this time,” however, lawyers for some of the indicted staffers have issued statements professing their innocence.
The felony indictments tarnish the public image of Hidalgo, who’s currently running for re-election and has been considered a rising star in the Democrat party with future statewide ambitions.