Terri Hodge was a state rep from Dallas for 14 years; earlier this year she faced a tough re-election fight. Hodge sent out a desperate plea for help, and among those answering was Houston state rep Senfronia Thompson, who wrote a $10,000 check from her own campaign fund.
And nine days later, Hodge pleaded guilty to tax fraud, which is generally not thought to be the best strategy to winning a tough re-election.
Thompson's was by far the largest donation from a House colleague in Hodge's latest campaign finance report.
Any buyer's remorse, Rep. Thompson?
"It was such a plea that I felt just really obligated to do something to help her, Thompson tells Hair Balls. "I was just totally unaware that her case was that close to being resolved."
She says she doesn't think Hodge knew she'd soon be accepting a plea bargain when she accepted the donation.
"It was just one of those things... And I believe that had she been aware it was going to be resolved quickly she probably would not have even asked for that money, because she's not that kind of a person," Thompson says. "She would not have put persons in those kinds of positions to give her something when she know she was going to be pleading out the following week. I just think it was something that just came up, and in the federal system it was probably that her lawyer probably had the opportunity to go ahead on it and resolve that matter as quickly as he could and that it came up and he just took advantage of it."
Pretty gracious, we guess, which of course it's somewhat easy to be when you're spending donors' money and not your own. Thompson's donors are largely big-bucks outfits like PACs and law firms, who won't miss the money (And probably don't have huge qualms about how Thompson spends it).
But does she have any worries that her contributors will be annoyed that their cash went to a criminal?
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"I don't think so," Thompson says, "and if they do I will be happy to explain it to them. I think they'll understand that I give big donations all the time and I believe that they would understand."
And if they didn't?
"Well, I would just continue to try and get them to understand and I would hope that they would be broad-minded enough to understand my position at that particular time based on what I knew at that moment," she says.
The word "refund" wasn't mentioned, but we guess that might be a difficult concept to embrace when you've just seen your own $10,000 campaign donation be set on fire by the person to whom you donated.