Rodney Ellis’ Legal Bills Cost Harris County Taxpayers $426,850.36
Ellis’ Campaign Had Already Paid Most of Those Bills
On March 9, Harris County Commissioners Court approved payments to Rusty Hardin & Associates for $160,184.95 and $266,665.41 to the Feldman & Feldman law firm for the “representation of a county employee in connection with certain legal proceedings.”
I have learned that the county employee who incurred those legal bills was County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, and I have obtained redacted copies of the invoices.
After reviewing the invoices and Commissioner Ellis’ campaign finance reports, it is clear that Ellis’ campaign had already paid the vast majority of these bills. Presumably, the law firms that Ellis hired will refund his campaign account what had been paid to them previously, now that the firms have been paid by Harris County taxpayers. Ellis can now use these refunded legal fees in his campaign account to help support Democratic candidates and election efforts.
On her most recent campaign finance report, County Judge Lina Hidalgo reported receiving a $100,000 loan to her campaign from Commissioner Ellis’ campaign. On that same report, Judge Hidalgo’s campaign reported being in the red, carrying $101,400 in debts (including the $100,000 loan from Commissioner Ellis) and having only $36,568.86 on hand.
The invoices from Ellis’ lawyers that Harris County taxpayers paid for appear to primarily concern an investigation into Commissioner Ellis related to the storage of an African art collection at a county warehouse as well as the case involving the Elevate Strategies bid rigging scandal that resulted in the indictment of three of Judge Hidalgo’s staff members.
However, the invoices also reflect calls that concerned public relations advice and legal work performed in connections with allegations that Commissioner Ellis was engaged in ballot harvesting. The amounts paid by Harris County taxpayers also appear to include legal fees that had been written off by Rusty Hardin’s law firm.
On March 3, 2020, Hardin billed Ellis for a phone call with attorney Cris Feldman of Feldman & Feldman, Ellis, and prominent lobbyist Bill Miller of the lobbying firm HillCo Partners. The purpose of the call was regarding a “public statement.”
A few days later, Hardin billed for a telephone conference where the subject was discussing a response to questioned posted by television reporter Ted Oberg of KTRK Channel 13.
On October 19, 2020, Hardin and two others from his firm billed for a call that also included Ashlee McFarlane, an attorney who represents Lina Hidalgo. The subject matter of this call included “status of ballot harvesting allegations.” These ballot harvesting allegations are purely political in nature and have nothing to do with Commissioner Ellis’ official capacity or employment with Harris County.
One of the invoices from Hardin’s firm reflects seven payments, six of which correlate directly to payments made to Hardin’s firm from Ellis’ campaign account totaling $83,681.64. The invoice also reflects that $10,375 was written off by Hardin’s firm. However, the Harris County Auditor’s website shows that the full amount of the invoice including the portion that had been written off, $94,056.64, was paid by Harris County taxpayers.
Payments to Rusty Hardin & Associates from Rodney Ellis’ campaign account
Payments to Feldman & Feldman from Harris County for Rodney Ellis’s legal fee
Payments from Rodney Ellis’ campaign to Feldman & Feldman
Between Rodney's legal bills & Hidalgo's legal bills and security detail I'm pretty sure we could fund all of Houston's food pantries & homeless shelters for a year. BTW when is the DA going to proceed ? Did Soros call her off of that? I'm sure it will all stop when Shejack comes to town!
This guy is such a crook. He should be behind bars.
Crook is an understatement. I would say 'weselar" as well.