HOUSTON - Law enforcement, including the Texas Rangers, are serving search warrants at the Harris County Administration Building, multiple sources tell FOX 26.
The evidence sought is believed to be related to the controversial $11 million COVID-19 communication contract that was canceled last year.
Harris County Commissioners voted unanimously in September to cancel the controversial contract for COVID-19 outreach, a week after Judge Lina Hidalgo said she would call for the cancellation claiming the issue has become overly politicized.
The deal went to a one-person company, Elevate Strategies, run by a political strategist with a limited track record that did not receive the highest scores in the bidding process.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo canceled the contract in the face of scrutiny, but D.A. Kim Ogg has been investigating whether laws were broken, in the process.
Rangers and investigators were reportedly looking for computers or other devices, that may hold clues to how the consultant firm was selected.
In a statement D.A. spokesman Dane Schiller says, in part, "a judge signed search warrants, which are legal authorization to search for and seize potential evidence of a crime."
Last year, a bidding process scored Elevate second to the supposed expertise of UT Health, for the program, but still won when some contractual-requirements were suspended. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo was defiant, last year, when questions were raised about the deal, saying, "Bring it on, because there is nothing here."
Precinct-4 commissioner Jack Cagle was among those who challenged the contract and, now, says he expected this.
"I'm not surprised with the things that we've seen, in regards to this contract, that have been unfolding since that little blow-up we had in commissioners court," says Cagle.
Judge Hidalgo's attorney, Ashley McFarlane, responded with a statement saying the Judge maintains strict ethical guidelines.
"This is nothing but political theater since the devices would have been provided on request. What’s missing is any shred of evidence, but what’s in abundance is politics."
Either way, observers say it is not a good look to have investigators show up with a warrant in hand.
"It doesn't mean that Judge Hidalgo, or anyone else in county government broke the law," says FOX 26 senior legal analyst Chris Tritico. "What it means is that there is an investigation going on. We'll have to wait and see where the investigation goes and what the investigation reveals."
If it's made public, the search warrant would show, exactly, what investigators were looking for. That, in turn, could offer a clue to what kind of case might be presented to a grand jury and what kind of wrong-doing might be alleged.