Mayor Turner stands by press secretary as thousands of questionable emails pour in

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After more than 1,000 emails showing Houston’s mayoral press secretary Darian Ward was allegedly inappropriately using taxpayers’ time, the aide is keeping her job.

Mayor Sylvester Turner reportedly says he does not believe the situation merits termination. Instead, War was given a two-week suspension without pay.

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“Everybody can’t be HR [human resources], OK?” Turner told Channel 2. “There cannot be 2.3 million people who are HR,” Turner said. “And there are some who will say, ‘You were too harsh.’ And there are some who will say, ‘Mayor, you were not harsh enough.’ Every case stands on its own.”

Last month, Turner enacted Ward’s suspensions for actions he labeled as “unacceptable and against policy,” warning more violations “could result in termination.”

Ward is a hold-over from former Mayor Annise Parker’s staff; Parker went on the record saying she believes Ward’s actions are “fireable.”

According to the Channel 2 report, Ward’s emails purportedly angled to “promote her production company and pursue reality television projects in New York and Los Angeles.”

A Houston Television employee told the Houston Chronicle “she believed Ward was developing ideas for television shows in her official capacity as press secretary.”

Bandied-about titles for the pitches reportedly included “My First Million,” “The Good Life” and “Tunnel of Love.”
Aside from her reality TV show aspirations, an abc13 investigation into Ward’s emails shows Ward also used her city email account to send nearly 200 emails on behalf of a charity she used to support as a volunteer.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is now reportedly “looking into the case to determine if Ward did more than violate city policy,” and prosecutors are investigating as to whether any state laws were broken.

More emails are reportedly expected to be released by the close of this week.

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