Wesley Hunt, a Trump Republican running to replace the newly-flipped U.S. House seat won by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher last year, has hired a political consultant who previously pleaded guilty to lying to congressional investigators, Texas Signal has learned.
Since announcing his campaign in April, Hunt has paid more than $14,000 to Brett O’Donnell, a GOP consultant who pleaded guilty to lying to congressional investigators in 2015.
O’Donnell pleaded guilty after the Office of Congressional Ethics found he accepted payment from the congressional office of a Republican client– and not from his client’s campaign account, essentially taking home $43,000 in taxpayer dollars. At the time, O’Donnell told investigators he was not on any congressional payroll and was merely volunteering advice to his client.
In 2018, O’Donnell was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and given two years of supervised probation, which he continues to serve, according to court records.
His last payment from Hunt’s campaign is dated September, the last month for which records are available through the FEC.
Hunt also recently raised eyebrows with a fundraising email, which prominently featured the Houston Chronicle logo that surreptitiously linked not to a Chronicle article but to the candidate’s donation page.
The Houston congressional seat
Texas’s 7th congressional district was one of two House seats in Texas Democrats managed to flip during the 2018 midterms. Fletcher beat out her Republican incumbent opponent, John Culberson, by five points.
Throughout the race so far, Fletcher has outraised all of her Republican opponents combined. Hunt, the leading Republican candidate, has raised $977,636 to Fletcher’s $1.7 million.
Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, in the words of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “smoked” Hunt on the fundraising front. She raised $639,699 in the third quarter to his $468,655. Fletcher’s cash on hand is $1.4 million, “more than double her next closest competitor,” noted a DCCC memo.
Hunt announced his run for Congress with a campaign video in April, which oddly, did not mention Texas or Houston. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Elbert Guillory, a former right-wing Louisiana state senator, have been among those to endorse Hunt.
Like the rest of her Texas colleagues in Congress, Fletcher has supported the impeachment inquiry against Trump. “These actions, which the President has admitted, represent a gross abuse of power and an abuse of the trust we the people have placed in the Office of the President,” Fletcher said in September when news of the Trump-Ukraine phone call first emerged.
Hunt, on the other hand, has made it clear via robocalls to Houstonians that he “stand[s] with President Trump.”
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org