Two close friends with deep pockets have helped launch Sean Teare’s campaign for Harris County District Attorney.

Teare, a former Harris County prosecutor running to replace two-term incumbent Kim Ogg in 2024, received $600,000 from two donors who he called personal friends — a substantial amount for a district attorney race. The donations accounted for most of the nearly $750,000 in contributions listed in his first campaign finance report.

Harris County district attorney candidate Sean Teare
Harris County district attorney candidate Sean Teare received two donations totaling $600,000 in the most recent fundraising cycle. (Photo courtesy of Sean Teare for DA)

These six-figure donations — $500,000 from Scott Freeman, the founder of multiple firms dealing in legal settlement administration, and $100,000 from retiree Linda Turek — helped slingshot Teare past Ogg this fundraising period, which covers the first half of 2023. Ogg raised $55,700 during the period, giving her about $275,000 in contributions on hand. 

Teare, a Democrat, previously served as Ogg’s division supervisor over vehicular crimes. He resigned from the District Attorney’s Office earlier this year to run against Ogg. Teare has accused his former boss of engaging in “political games and personal vendettas” that have hurt morale in the department and contributed to a backlog, requiring new leadership.

Teare said he and Freeman have become friends over the past three years through their sons’ Little League teams, while Turek has been “a second mom” in his life.

“They’re both dear friends and have committed significant money to this community, and they believe in me as a person,” Teare said.

The donations are the two largest given to a district attorney candidate in the past several years, almost equaling the $617,000 that Ogg raised in all of 2019 and 2020 for her first re-election campaign. Ogg did receive $850,000 in contributions from billionaire political donor George Soros and a political action committee affiliated with him during her 2016 campaign.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg speaks during a press conference June 29 at the Houston Police Department in downtown Houston. (Houston Landing file photo / Marie D. De Jesús)

“Politics will take a back seat to the District Attorney’s work on public safety and fairness, as voters expect this far out from the 2024 election,” Ogg campaign spokesperson Michael Kolenc said in a statement Wednesday.

“With over 220 days from the March Democratic primary, Kim Ogg will raise the funds she needs to win. Right now the DA has a different priority: getting it right on public safety and justice in Harris County.”

In a brief phone call, Freeman said Teare “is just a good friend, and I’m supporting his campaign.” He declined further comment about his donation.

Freeman’s firms help carry out large legal settlements that sometimes involve thousands of people receiving payouts. In a late 2020 legal filing, Freeman said he has administered “over 150,000 personal injury, pharmaceutical, medical device and chemical plant explosion cases around the country involving billions of dollars.” 

Recent high-profile cases linked to Freeman’s companies include settlements with survivors of sexual assault by a University of Michigan doctor and residents living through the Flint water crisis in Michigan.

While Freeman works in the legal realm, his companies handle civil cases that do not appear to overlap with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which only prosecutes criminal cases.

Freeman has donated about $420,000 to statewide candidates and political action committees over the past decade, including $100,000 to Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s failed run for governor in 2022 and $100,000 to First Tuesday, a committee that supports Democratic candidates.

Teare said that Turek “is as close as family,” and has been a part of his life since he was in high school. Turek could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Teare addressed potential critics of the donations he has received, noting that his largest donors are not working in fields that would seek influence from the district attorney.

“Anyone that knows me knows that I am not for sale,” Teare said.

Update, July 26, 11:30 a.m.: The story has been updated to include a comment from Kim Ogg’s campaign spokesperson.

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Tim Carlin is the Houston Landing's civic engagement reporter. An Ohio native, Tim comes to Houston after spending a year in Greenville, South Carolina, covering Greenville County government for The Greenville...