Robert Chody intends to run for Williamson County Sheriff in 2024; how his felony charge factors in

Williamson County
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody at press conference Sept. 28 (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody at press conference Sept. 28 (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Campaign finance reports Robert Chody is filing every six months detail a set of clear intentions — he’s running for Williamson County Sheriff again in 2024.

The finance report does not mean Chody is an official candidate, but those reports are considered a public announcement that he’s intending to run, according to the county elections clerk. They show if Chody has received any contributions or made any political expenditures in the last six months, and are filed semi-annually as standard procedure.

Chody previously served in the sheriff’s office from 2017 to 2020, and was unseated after current Sheriff Mike Gleason beat him by more than 30,000 votes.

Since the November 2020 election, Chody filed two campaign finance reports.

Chody hasn’t formally confirmed his 2024 run, but KXAN has reached out to him directly, as well as a previous campaign contact and his lawyer and will update this article when we hear back.

November 2020 election

Chody was charged with tampering with evidence and arrested just two months before the election in connection with the in-custody death of Javier Ambler.

Ambler’s death was recorded during a taping of the reality show “Live PD,” but that video was destroyed and never made air. The incident began after Ambler allegedly failed to dim his headlights, and led to a chase that ended up in Travis County.

The third-degree felony indictment against Chody stated that he acted to “destroy, or conceal a record, document, or thing; namely, video recordings and audio recordings, with intent to impair their availability as evidence in the investigation.”

Chody denied the accusations and maintained the charges were a political move at the time.

He was previously facing charges in both Williamson and Travis Counties, but the case has since been moved and combined with Travis County. Williamson County prosecutors are working on the Travis County case.

Chody has a pretrial hearing scheduled for July 29 in Travis County’s 299th Criminal District Court. It’s expected to be a standard check-in meeting between prosecutors and the defense.

The former sheriff had previously filed a lawsuit to contest the results of the November 2020 Williamson County Sheriff election, however, he decided to drop that lawsuit on July 12.

His run for office in 2024

While Robert Chody is awaiting trial, the Texas Election Code still allows anyone who hasn’t been “finally convicted of a felony” to run for office, which is the reason the tampering with evidence charge in Travis County has no impact on his current eligibility.

If convicted, a person is not eligible to run until the sentence they’re assigned is complete.

For Chody to also be considered a candidate in the 2024 election, he has to formally file for candidacy with a county party. That period begins in November 2023.

Another aspect of the election coming into question is Chody’s peace officer license, which according to The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement is still active, but has an enforcement hold because of the court case. With this hold on his license, he cannot be appointed by a law enforcement agency as a peace officer until his case has been resolved.

According to the Texas Administrative Code, TCOLE can suspend a peace officer’s license for felony offenses, however the charges against Chody fall outside of those categories.

The Secretary of State’s Office could not comment on whether the hold affects Chody’s eligibility to run, since it is the county the candidate files with that receives the application and Texas Election Code that outlines eligibility.

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