Kim Ogg, once hailed as the “reform darling” in Texas Democratic political circles after she ousted Republican control of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in 2016, now faces a tough uphill battle in her attempt to be elected to the post for a third term. Ogg’s Democratic primary challenger, Sean Teare (a former prosecutor in Ogg’s office), has mounted a serious campaign against the current D.A. with three basic issues:


  • Ogg has consistently failed to deliver criminal justice reforms she promised in her initial campaign—reforms long supported by a majority of the base of the Democrats in Harris County;
  • She has had a continuous employee turnover problem in the District Attorney’s with prosecutors and support personnel claiming the office has a “toxic work culture;” and 
  • She has maintained close and questionable ties to local Republicans involving major decision-making issues in her operations.


The truth of the matter, as evidenced by the openly hostile campaign between Ogg and Teare, is that many in the Democratic Party are fed up with the district attorney’s laundry list of shenanigans. 


The New Republic reported this past October that “more than 60 Democratic Party leaders submitted a resolution to formally condemn Ogg in weakening voter rights and attacking criminal justice reforms, and her tacit approval of Republican voter-suppression laws. The move also comes after reports of Ogg using her power to investigate members of her own party over personal feuds.”


The tragedy about the Kim Ogg affair is that she promised a reform-minded district attorney’s office—like the one Larry Krasner has delivered to the Philadelphia district attorney’s office—but has delivered a thuggish, vindictive prosecutorial setting comparable to the one maintained by the criminally-indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.


Paxton has long maintained a “toxic work culture” with vindictive attacks on those who oppose his questionable, even criminal, decision-making. Former staff members are currently suing the Attorney General, who is under federal criminal investigation, was impeached last year and is now trying to unseat the judges and Texas legislators involved in political attacks against him.


Ken Paxton has become the symbol of corrupt prosecutorial law enforcement in the State of Texas.


Tragically and unfortunately, D.A. Ogg has become the same symbol in Harris County. 


Perception is the only thing that matters in today’s political climate. And Ogg has, through arrogance, mismanagement, and abuse of power, created a perception that she is the only “rule of law” in Harris County; in other words, it’s the proverbial her way or the highway.


More than any law enforcement official, District Attorneys must avoid “any appearance of impropriety” through objective, honest, fair, and transparent decision-making and policies. 


District Attorney Ogg has failed miserably to do that. She has split Harris County into bitter disarray with self-centered, self-aggrandized, politically motivated decision-making and policy choices. She repeatedly refuses to address media requests for interviews, preferring to issue bland political statements like, “I will make my case to the voters that I have lived up to the promises I made to the community and crime victims.”


Ogg has a odd relationship with right-wing republicans, who’s agenda is in sharp contradiction with her political rhetoric. For example, she has come under scrutiny for her decision to drop a criminal investigation into Jared Woodfill, a prominent local attorney and right-wing Republican activist, for serious financial crimes. Ogg’s office obtained a search warrant to conduct a raid of his office, “accusing him of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from former clients.” The case was never presented to a grand jury, and experienced career prosecutors working on the case have since left the DA’s office. “Woodfill’s accusers say they’re still waiting for justice. Earlier this month, two of them asked the FBI to look into the case and accused Ogg of dropping it “for reasons contrary to the interests of justice.”


Ogg’s office also has a reputation for filing criminal cases without probable cause, the lowest burden to arrest and detain a defendant, and requesting high bonds in cases without proper analysis or screening. The Houston Chronicle cited 4,500 cases in 2022 alone that had been filed and dismissed because they had no legal basis, according to rulings by local judges. That is double the number of cases dismissed for lack of probable cause by her Republican predecessor in 2016. 


There has also been a continual hemorrhaging of professional, experienced career prosecutors, who have left in droves to work in nearby counties.  Grumblings around the courthouse have consistently complained of mismanagement, micromanagement and a hostile work environment under Ogg’s reign. Meanwhile, defense attorneys complain of slow compliance with state discovery laws and inability to resolve cases short of setting cases for trial, meaning defendants sit in jail, or under punitive bail conditions, often for years, waiting for cases to be resolved or dismissed.


In a February 16, 2024 report, the Texas Tribune, cited the current conditions facing the Harris County District Attorney’s Office—conditions that are the legacy of Ogg’s tenure in office: 


“The next district attorney in Texas’ largest county—and the nation’s third largest—will face major challenges. Harris County is grappling with a mounting criminal case backlog and overcrowding in the county jail, the highest in the state.” The county would not be facing this crisis had Kim Ogg simply delivered on the promises she made to secure two terms in office.


Meanwhile, Sean Teare tells voters through the Tribune that “these are things that are pretty easily fixable, but you’ve got someone in that office right now that has no interest in fixing anything.”


That has been the situation for the past two terms Ogg has guided the district attorney’s office. This crisis has been self-inflicted through personal arrogance, unfulfilled promises, and abuses of the rule of law. It is time for a new DA in Harris County who will deliver on their promises and bring integrity and excellence to the residents of the nation’s 3rd most populated county.