Led into a federal magistrate’s courtroom in Houston wearing handcuffs Friday, 164th District Judge Alexandra Smoots-Thomas pleaded not guilty to seven counts of wire fraud in a case that alleges she embezzled more than $26,000 in campaign contributions and used them for personal expenses.

But Smoots-Thomas’ attorney said the judge’s prosecution is political, and that she had turned down a request by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to wear a wire to see if Texas judges were taking bribes.

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