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Terri Hodge

Harper-Brown’s hand in the cookie jar

Oops.

State Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving) and her husband are driving cars owned by a highway contractor doing millions of dollars of business with the state. All the while, Harper-Brown sits on the influential House Transportation Committee. Her husband claims the deal is pay for work he does separate from his wife, but others question the arrangement.

Harper-Brown lives in a modest house in Irving that has been appraised at $132,000, yet she drives a 2010 Mercedes Benz sedan valued at about $55,000. She and her husband own the house, but not the car.

[…]

State records show since her 2002 election, Harper-Brown has driven cars purchased by Durable Enterprises Equipment, a company owned by Jeffrey Bryan, of Arlington.

Bryan also owns Durable Specialties in Grand Prairie and Paradigm Traffic Systems in Arlington. The state comptroller’s office shows that over the last three years, they’ve done $12 million in work, like installing and managing highway cameras, for TxDOT. In one campaign picture, Harper-Brown can even be seen wearing a Durable Specialties jacket as she stands next to Bryan.

The Lone Star Project is all over this, as you might imagine. They’ve got a bunch of supporting documents for your perusal, and they make a provocative observation:

Earlier this year, former State Representative Terri Hodge was sentenced to a year in prison for accepting reduced rent and home improvements in return for official favors – less in compensation than it appears has been received by Linda Harper-Brown (Dallas Morning News, June 16, 2010). If it is proven that Linda Harper-Brown was given use of the car(s) in return for her actions as a legislator, she will be guilty of bribery.

That’s a big “if”, of course, though the WFAA story notes that information has been turned over to the U.S. Attorney in Dallas and state prosecutors in Austin. Even if there is something there, I would not expect any action until after the election, as that is the norm in these situations. Harper-Brown’s unpersuasive response is here, and BOR has more.

Sibley in for SD22 special election

With the official resignation of State Sen. Kip Averitt, his predecessor in SD22, David Sibley, has announced that he will be a candidate for the May special election to fill the remainder of Averitt’s term.

The winner of the expected special election isn’t guaranteed a shot at the general election to serve during the 2011 legislative session.

That will be decided by the county party chairs in the district. The chairs from the Democratic and Republican parties each will meet to select replacement candidates on the general election ballot.

But Sibley made it clear in his statement that he’s running to position himself as his party’s choice in November.

“I believe I have a proven conservative track record at getting results, the understanding of the legislative process and the familiarity with issues of importance to Senate District 22 that will benefit all 10 counties in the district during this tough upcoming session,” he said.

Darren Yancy, who lost to a non-campaigning Averitt in March, is also in. I feel confident that several others will jump in as well. I’ll be surprised if Sibley wins this election and does not get named the Republican nominee for November. He’s the strong favorite for each. More from the Trib, which notes that there will also be a special election in HD100 to fill out Rep. Terri Hodge’s term. No word yet if Eric Johnson will be in for that – he may as well, it’d be some added seniority for him – but he’ll be the representative from HD100 next year regardless thanks to his win in March.

Election results: The Lege

There are way too many races to recap here, and since the Trib has done such a thorough job of it, I’ll leave the heavy lifting to them. A few highlights:

– Steve Ogden easily won re-nomination in SD5, and Kip Averitt was returned to the ballot in SD22. Each faced fringe opponents, so these are good results as far as maintaining a functioning Senate goes. Averitt as we know had sought to drop out. He may yet do that, at which time we’ll get appointed nominees from both parties; if he changes his mind, he’s in, as no Dem filed originally.

– Borris Miles won by a razor-thin margin over Al Edwards in HD146. The margin as of this morning was all of eleven votes. Yes, you can expect a recount, and that’s a small enough number that there’s a chance the outcome could change. Don’t carve anything into stone just yet. A statement from Miles’ campaign is beneath the fold.

– Despite some predictions that Rep. Terri Hodge, who recently pleaded guilty to lying on her tax returns and stated her intention to resign after being sentenced, would still win her primary, challenger Eric Johnson defeated her by a large margin. There is no Republican challenger, so Johnson will be sworn in next January.

– Rep. Betty Brown, best known for her inability to handle Asian names, lost. That’s good. Rep. Tommy Merritt of Longview, who had faced primary challenges every cycle this decade for his opposition to Tom Craddick and other acts of heresy, also lost. That’s not good. Rep. Delwin Jones is in a runoff. On the Democratic side, Reps. Dora Olivo of Fort Bend and Tara Rios Ybarra of South Padre Island lost, and Rep. Norma Chavez of El Paso is in a runoff. Go click those Trib links for more.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll post links to more coverage later as I see them.

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Hodge pleads guilty, will resign

Well, at least this got resolved before the primary.

State Rep. Terri Hodge, D-Dallas, pleaded guilty early this morning to lying on her tax returns in connection with the FBI’s Dallas City Hall public corruption investigation, an act that ends her 14-year political career.

Hodge, 69, now a convicted felon, is dropping her re-election plans, and will resign her position as District 100 representative in the Texas House when she is sentenced. At Wednesday’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn said she wanted sentencing to occur as soon as possible.

“Ms. Hodge will have pleaded guilty today to a felony and will still be representing her district,” Lynn said. “I’m not real keen on that notion.”

Attorney Jeff Kearney said Hodge needed about 90 days to close down her legislative offices. “There are thousands of files” in her offices, he said, dealing with district and constituent business amassed during seven terms in office. “She can’t throw those in a dumpster.”

It must be noted that the deadline to officially withdraw from the ballot has passed, even for deceased candidates, so it is possible that Hodge could still win, in which case she’d have to be replaced on the ballot; as there is no Republican candidate, the Dallas County GOP would then get to pick someone as well, much as it would be in the case of Sen. Kip Averitt. One hopes that won’t happen and that the voters will choose challenger Eric Johnson, who has run a strong campaign and who received the DMN endorsement last month, but one never knows. It would have been nice of Hodge to step down before it came to this, but I suppose she kept believing she could beat this right up till the point where she agreed to take the plea.

Anyway. Here’s more from the Trib, with background from me and the Observer. A statement from Rep. Hodge is beneath the fold.

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Election tidbits for 9/28

Two weeks till Early Voting begins.

Psst! Hey, Peggy! Rep. Kristi Thibaut represents HD133 here in Houston, not Galveston. Just FYI.

As for the news that the GOP will be targeting State Rep. Abel Herrero, given the 2008 partisan index of HD34, plus the apparent likelihood that the Dems are once again punting on the statewide races and don’t have much of a plan to engage their base in South Texas, it makes sense. On the other hand, Herrero performed pretty decently against a well-funded opponent (he had more money, but not that much more), and I don’t at this time see him as being in much danger; at least, I don’t see him as being in as much danger as some other Democrats. But if I were a Republican, I’d want to take a shot at him, even if I thought it was a long shot.

Republican State Rep. Charlie Geren may face another primary challenger. After taking Tom Craddick and James Leininger’s best shots, I doubt he’s seriously worried.

Speaking of primaries, Democrat Eric Johnson boasts about raising over $100K in his effort to unseat State Rep. Terri Hodge. I think the verdict in the Dallas City Hall corruption case, for which Rep. Hodge has been indicted but not yet tried, will be the bigger determinant in his race than his fundraising, but it can’t hurt to have the resources to run.

Empower Texans, one of the conservative agitprop groups in the state, wants to know if you think Sen. Hutchison should resign or not. Not sure why they think if she does resign it will “save taxpayers up to $30 million”, and I’m not sure why that’s her responsibility and not Governor Perry’s, since the cost of the special election is in part a function of the date he sets for it, but whatever. I don’t expect logic from these guys anyway.

Was that Rasmussen poll that showed a KBH bounceback against Rick Perry a bogus result?

Last week, the Press named Sheriff Adrian Garcia the Best Democrat, and County Judge Ed Emmett the Best Republican. I can’t argue with either of those choices.

Mayoral candidate Gene Locke has recordings of numerous robocalls being made on his behalf by various elected officials that support his candidacy. I’ll say again, I think you ought to be spending your money on other forms of outreach, like mail – in this case, why not do these recorsings as radio ads – and save the robocalls for GOTV efforts. I say this as someone who generally hangs up on robocalls. Maybe I’m the exception here, I don’t know. But I suspect most people find these things more intrusive and annoying than anything else.

Speaking of ads, Peter Brown is set to release his third TV ad tomorrow. I’ll post the video when I get it. So far, that’s Brown 3, Parker 1, Locke 0, and I haven’t seen Parker’s ad on the tube yet. Still wondering when we’ll see new poll numbers so we’ll know if Brown’s air war has moved anyone into his column.

Terri Hodge draws a challenger

State Rep. Terri Hodge, a fixture in HD100 since 1996, has drawn a challenger for next year.

Dallas lawyer Eric Johnson announced [Friday] that he is running for the District 100 seat in the Texas House.

That’s the seat currently being held by embattled Democrat Terri Hodge.

Hodge is currently under federal indictment on bribery charges and is expected to go to trial this summer.

She has not had a major opponent since being elected to the House in 1996.

Several candidates have expressed interest in running for the District 100 seat, but most of their plans were contingent on Hodge being convicted of a felony that would have disqualified her from office.

In his release that I’ve attached below, Johnson appears to be running no matter what happens to Hodge at trial.

Expect other candidates to join the fray if things don’t go Hodge’s way.

I got that release late last week as well, and a subsequent one that I’ve put beneath the fold as well. Here’s a couple of updates on that bribery case. Most of those charged are going to trial on June 22, though Rep. Hodge will be tried separately. It ought to be a high-profile case.

The Observer wrote a profile of Rep. Hodge last year after no one filed to run against her despite the charges that had been filed. She’s been a staunch advocate for her district, where the article notes the charges are seen (or at least were at the time) with skepticism, and a tough competitor. At the end of this legislative session, she asserted her innocence to the DMN. I’ve no idea how this will go for her, but it’ll be very interesting to watch.

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