Saturday, February 09, 2008

State Rep. Terri Hodge likely headed back to Austin

Over at the Texas Observer, Jason Johnson has a story about the dead-certain re-election prospects of state Rep. Terri Hodge, a Dallas Democrat who has been indicted on federal bribery charges but who drew no Democratic nor GOP opposition in her South Dallas district.

Except for Elise Hu at KVUE, who got out her ten foot pole to explore the touchy topic last month, and a few conservative bloggers asking where are her liberal critics, both the Democratic Party and the blogosphere have been surprisingly silent on this subject (except to solicit legal defense funds), particularly when compared to the reaction after the Harris County DA's embarrassing emails were recently revealed - the party basically hounded him out of the nominating process, then called on AG Greg Abbott to launch an independent investigation.

Why didn't Hodge draw an opponent? Dallas News political writer Gromer Jeffers told Hu that "even though the lege has a good retirement plan, the prospect of that kind of low pay and devoting that time in Austin isn't really appealing for prospective candidates." To hear the Observer tell it, though, it's "the loyalty factor," resulting from years of diligent constituent service.

An anonymous constituent told the Observer what's probably the most important reason Hodge drew no opposition: “She’s not going to go down meekly. She’s going to go down swinging.” Potential opponents likely thought it would be easier to let the prosecutors take her out.

After Charles Chatman's exoneration last month, Rep. Hodge attended the court proceedings, spoke to the press, and "promised unspecified reforms when the Legislature convenes in 2009." That doesn't sound like a woman who plans on going anywhere soon, does it? So unless federal prosecutors have something to say about it, it sounds like we'll see Rep. Hodge back in Austin in 2009.

Like several others quoted in the Observer story, I respect the work Terri Hodge has done on many issues that concern this blog, and that history causes me to give her some benefit of the doubt. OTOH, the US Attorney has accused her of accepting free rent from a developer for whom she did political favors. If those charges are true and she makes the feds go to court to prove it, she's quite likely to head to prison, and I don't think the federal guidelines are too generous concerning bribery of public officials.

Hodge has never answered these allegations either in the press nor to my knowledge in any court proceedings. So more than two years after the charges surfaced, we still don't know her side of the story. Apparently neither media attention nor the electoral process will cause her to explain the alleged illegal rent payments, nor why she failed to report them to the state ethics commission. You just don't get to do that; I don't care if I do agree with much of your voting record.

The Observer story doesn't tell us whether the feds will take her case to court before the 81st Texas Legislature in 2009, but that's the $64 question. Otherwise, she'll be back in Austin next year, and competing with an always-crowded field for the "most scandal-plagued legislator" at the capitol when she arrives.

For those interested here's a copy of the indictment (pdf, 166 pages).


Anonymous said...

She didn't draw an opponent because all her constituents are felons.

Anonymous said...

Someone has to look after felons!

Most politicians are felons that havn't been charged - - yet. I don't see why having consituents that are felons would prevent anyone from competing for her office.

If she is charged and convicted, the politicians will come up with someone to take her place.

Question is - - will the replacement help felons? Remember helping felons also helps their families. That's a lot of Texans that will vote in favor of someone that will help them.

Anonymous said...

Felons are not welcomed at TYC so they can't work for that state agency. It's sad because many of the ones Kimbrough fired were leading productive lives and being examples to the incarcerated youth of Texas.

I agree that those felons that want help should be helped and that some people that have been elected to public office have charges pending and some have committed crimes that will never see charges. Is it fair that we pay these people our hard earned tax money, heck no. Vote them out of office and let others bring in new ideas and a different viewpoints, felons or not.

Anonymous said...

I am distressed by the 8:31 Anonymous comment. I would like to think that comment reflects a very rare opinon of Rep. Hodge's constituents. I fear it is much more widespread than we might think.
Charles Kiker, Tulia

Anonymous said...

Most of her constituents are dirt poor. Given the pay, to run for and serve in the Lege you need to be independently wealthy or have a very understanding employer.

That said, it's more than a little disturbing how the local party people have rallied around her. Indeed, a high contrast to the reaction to Chuck Rosenthal.

Anonymous said...

Terri Hodge sold out EVERY decent law abiding Texan. I spoke to her last year and she stated she was going to help fix the broken probation sytem in this state. I didn't know she was thinking about how it might help her! Of course I'm sure she is the VICTIM of a smear campaign by the MAN(?)

Anonymous said...

One would hope that until proven guilty, Ms Hodge would be afforded the courtesy of innocence.

Oh wait, sorry, I forgot we were talking about Texas here.

I hope she can hang on, because there are a few things I'd like her to take on for the next Lege sesion, and no one else is willing to look at the problems of TDCJ. Better the devil you know, sometimes.

Anonymous said...

No wonder she earns such loyalty:

and a murderer too:

Anonymous said...

This explains her blatant abuse of her position as a "representative" to abuse state workers and bully them, again using her political leverage, into giving convicted criminals whatever they want while "allegedly paying their debts to society". After all -it is correct all her constituents are felons. She is obviously very confident she will not have to answer for her abuse of official power.

Anonymous said...

Federals prosecutors! Please act quickly- we need representatives that will serve the people of texas; not the convicted people of texas with well off family members.

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