By Marc Campos

Eric Wasn't Idle

Houston area activist Dems were a little surprised to read over the weekend that former 1st Court of Appeals Judge Eric Andell had pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. The former judge admitted to falsifying expense reports while serving as a high ranking official at the U.S. Department of Education. Andell ripped off the feds to the tune of $8,600.

At one time Andell was one of the area's most popular Dems and top vote getter. He got beat for reelection in 2000. Then he went to work for Education Secretary Rod Paige in W's administration. That raised a few eyebrows. He came back late last year and some Dems were willing to forgive him and touted him as a possible Dem candidate for something - maybe Harris County Judge. He had that certain crossover appeal. Some Dems however weren't happy that he collaborated with the enemy and were waiting for Andell to run in the Dem primary so they could make life tough for him. They don't have to worry about that now. Andell's plea agreement stipulates that he can't run for office for awhile - three years.

The most surprising revelation was that one of Andell's no-no expense trips was to Austin to meet with and lobby GOP Guv Rick Perry for a judgeship in the spring of 2003. This was after a real nasty and highly partisan 2002 general election and during an equally dirty battle over redistricting. Dude had many Dems fooled. He snuck across the trenches and battlefield lines, stepped over Dem bodybags, and asked for something for himself. They way it works, if Perry appoints you as a judge, you have to agree to run as a Repub. Yikes!!

Look at the bright side. At least the collaborator was nailed before Dem folks got caught up in any future Eric for something campaign in 2006.

May 2, 2005, 9:00AM

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