Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo addresses Texas Rangers investigation into COVID outreach contract

Here's what we know

HOUSTON – On Tuesday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo addressed the recent developments of a Texas Rangers investigation into her office.

Authorities executed search warrants on March 12 focused on the offices of Hidalgo for electronic devices that may hold information regarding a controversial $11 million contract awarded last year.

“Based on the information that I know, and I can speak for myself, everything I’ve done related to this has been completely above board,” said Hidalgo.

Hidalgo told reporters she would “love” to address the allegations, but had been advised that under the law she could not go into details.

NOW: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo addresses the media days after details of Texas Rangers search warrants involving her inner circle emerge. KPRC2 Mario Diaz

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Hidalgo asked for the investigation to be complete to learn the whole story.

“What was presented was one-sided. Of course, it sounds alarming because it’s meant to sound alarming,” said Hidalgo.

The contract intended for vaccine outreach was awarded to Elevate Strategies run by Felicity Pereyra. It was later pulled back after questions about the process of selecting a vendor.

The search warrant executed alleges Pereyra was given insight into the development of the contract.

Three other vendors, including the University of Texas Health Science Center and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, submitted proposals for the contract. The search warrant quotes messages from Pereyra to the deputy chief of staff as early as January 2021. The warrant also quotes messages from other Harris County staffers working on the project.

Investigators state in the search warrant, that a draft email dated February 24, 2021, said “seeking bids for vendors.”

The search warrant also quotes messages on April 20, 2021, saying “don’t let UT get it” and “we need to slam the door shut on UT and move on.”

“What was most troubling to me is that Elevate seemed to be the party that was involved in deciding what the proposal would be. That is completely backward. That is something the Federal Government would be interested in,” said Michael Wynne, a former federal prosecutor. “This is a huge problem for those involved.”

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