On Friday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced that a Democratic political consultant was convicted of coercion after he tried to affect the outcome of the 2020 Texas House of Representatives District 132 election.
Damien Jones was convicted of coercion of a public servant for sending anonymous threatening text messages to then-State Rep. Gina Calanni of District 132, local outlet KTRK-TV reports.
Jones was attempting to convince Calanni to resign rather than run for reelection when he sent the text messages, Ogg said. The threat was allegedly made on Dec. 2, 2019, just days before the 2020 election filing deadline.
“I was home alone, and I got this threat from this number I didn’t know, and it was disturbing,” Calanni said in 2020. Calanni reported the threat to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which investigated the case in conjunction with the DA’s Office Public Corruption Division.
Jones was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor and was facing up to a year in the Harris County Jail, up to a $4,000 fine, or both. He was sentenced to one year of probation following a three-day trial. He must also complete a class on making “good decisions” and 30 hours of community service, the DA’s office said.
“At a time when threats against public servants are at an all-time high, it is critical to hold accountable those who would try to subvert the will of the people by coercing a state representative into dropping out of an election,” Ogg said. “We thank the jurors for their service.”
The case was prosecuted by Kimberly Smith and Michael Levine of the District Attorney’s Public Corruption Division. Comments from both of them were published in a written statement from Ogg’s office.
“This was a case of ambition that crossed the line into criminal conduct,” Levine said. “By trying to coerce a politician into resigning, he illegally sought to influence an election.”
“This goes beyond just expressing your opinion. This was a threat,” Smith said. “This is a prime example of showing that no matter what your profession is, you are going to be held responsible for what you say and do.”
This isn’t the first time in recent memory that Harris County has experienced a scandal around election issues. In March, former county elections administrator Isabel Longoria resigned after the Texas primary after it was discovered her office had failed to count 10,000 mail-in ballots. Longoria was appointed to her position by progressive Judge Lina Hidalgo.
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