Last Friday, City of Houston Press Secretary Darian Ward resigned following an investigation of her email records showing she was doing side work on city time. But according to the reporter that originally broke the story, that investigation almost didn’t happen.
According to ABC13, Trent Siebert of the Texas Monitor said he never would have submitted his original open records request if Ward hadn’t repeatedly dodged his phone calls.
After the records request was submitted, and Ward withheld information, a second look revealed roughly 5,000 relevant emails as opposed to the 30 Ward originally said she had, triggering the investigation the led to her Friday resignation.
Reporters combing through the thousands of work emails released through public records requests found multiple instances of Ward pitching side businesses from her city email account, including ideas for reality TV shows she was working on at the time the emails were sent.
Ward’s resignation was effective immediately. Mayor Sylvester Turner is appointing Mary Benton, a former reporter, as interim Press Secretary until someone can be found to fill the position, according to a release from the mayor’s office.
“My job is to get the City’s and your message out, not to be a distraction, therefore, I think it is in the best interest of the City that I resign effective immediately,” Ward wrote in her resignation letter.
There are still over a thousand emails to be released, according to ABC. The latest batch shows Ward pitching a reality show about the parents of young musicians, as well as using her influence to secure discounted airline tickets for girls involved with a nonprofit Ward worked with.
The District Attorney’s Office is still currently reviewing Ward’s emails for violations of the Texas Open Records Act, so there could be further developments in the case.