HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Six days after FOX 26 broke the news of five additional search warrants granted to Texas Rangers investigating "bid-rigging" at Harris County, we reminded Judge Lina Hidalgo of this very public statement back in May 2022.
"Man. I have Slack, I have Signal, I have WhatsApp. I haven't used them in years," said Hidalgo at a press conference.
"Don't you want to avoid even the potential that you could be having government conversations in basically a technological black box?" asked FOX 26.
"I told you, I don't have governmental conversations on Signal," said Hidalgo.
Fast forward to last week's filing of search warrant affidavits by Texas Rangers and the revelation, that contrary to Hidalgo's claim that "she hadn't used" encrypted messaging apps "for years", she was in fact, communicating with her chief of staff on WhatsApp regarding not just County business, but more critically, the controversial, multi-million dollar Covid communication contract, which led to the criminal indictment of three of her top aides.
FOX 26 pressed Hidalgo to explain the untruth.
"We get these search warrants and there are multiple messages between you and your former chief of staff on WhatsApp. So you want to walk that back? Did that happen?" asked FOX 26.
"The question was whether I conduct county business on the Signal app. I do not conduct County business on the Signal app," said Hidalgo.
"So you did not conduct county business on WhatsApp and other encrypted apps?" asked FOX 26.
"I already answered the question," said Hidalgo.
On its website, WhatsApp boasts, "With end-to-end encryprion, your personal messages and calls are secured. Only you and the person you're talking to can read or listen to them, not even WhatsApp."
Which means journalists, taxpayers and in most cases, law enforcement, have little or no ability to review records of public business essentially conducted in the "dark."