The ten-day suspension Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner issued his press secretary for reportedly violating Texas law is raising eyebrows.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Press Secretary Darian Ward was found to be sending emails on company time to promote and conduct her side business, a production company called Joy In Motion.
She also allegedly concealed the fact she was conducting business not related to her city job while on city time by withholding information when reporter Trent Seibert filed a Texas Public Information Act request for emails sent from her work computer.
Since work emails from government employees are public record, state law says withholding them from someone who’s filed a records request is illegal. Punishable, in fact, by a hefty fine and up to six months in jail, according to the Chronicle.
Yet all Ward received was a short suspension, something that to some looks like slap on the wrist.
According to click2houston.com, a letter from the city’s Office of the Inspector General found Ward was indeed guilty of working a side business on city time.
After being called on to do so by the Chronicle and others familiar with the case, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said her office will investigate the case more fully, stating: “We will review the evidence and apply the law once the evidence is received from the City of Houston’s Office of Inspector General.”