'Borderline BS:' Mealer ad goes too far predicting Hidalgo indictment

With Houston-area voters listing public corruption as a top concern, the appearance of an attack ad highlighting the bid rigging scandal at Harris County was a near certainty.

In a frequently aired spot, challenger Alex Mealer targets incumbent Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

RELATED: FOX 26 rates Hidalgo attack ad: 'Mostly B.S.'

"Three of her top staffers have already been indicted. Crime. Corruption. Incompetence," says the ad's narrator.

It is a matter of record that Hidalgo's Chief of Staff Alex Triantaphyliss, along with key lieutenants Wallace Nader and Aaron Dunn, are facing felony charges related to the improper steering of an $11 million COVID communication contract to a little known Democratic operative.

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While Hidalgo claims the prosecution of the trio is political, multiple legal experts believe evidence gathered by the Texas Rangers indicate the trio may well have tampered with government records and leaked inside information in violation of state law.

Longtime FOX 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico says this claim is "No-BS". 

"For a political ad, when someone is seeking re-election and their top lieutenants, if you will, get indicted, that's a decent political ad," said Tritico.

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But then there's this Mealer claim aimed directly at the incumbent.

"Hidalgo faces criminal indictment for rigging an $11 million contract for insiders," declares the narrator. 

So far, Hidalgo has not been charged with a crime. Tryantaphyllis, Nader, and Dunn are the only defendants indicted in connection with the alleged bid-rigging scheme.

"Lina Hidalgo is not indicted, is not charged. We have no idea if she is going to be indicted. That part of the ad I have big problems with. I think that is a misleading statement and I don't think it should be used in an ad," said Tritico.

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That said, FOX 26 has confirmed the corruption investigation is ongoing.

In addition, there's the May 17 tweet from Hidalgo in which she predicted a forthcoming indictment against her. It was a legal forecast she later repeated on Houston Public Radio.  

"I've been asked a couple of times, you know, do you think you are going to be indicted? What do you think is going to happen? And the truth is, yea, I mean, if I'm being realistic," said Hidalgo.

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Tritico says those Hidalgo statements give the Mealer campaign legal cover.

"That statement gets the Mealer camp, I think, what they needed for their lawyers to say it's okay to say this, and I'm pretty sure Lina Hidalgo wishes she could get those statements back," said Tritico.   

And so, on advice of Counsel, FOX 26 is rating that second Mealer claim, "Borderline B.S.", at least for now.