Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner supports press secretary suspended for lying, abusing city time

HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he went “over and above” how he handled four specific policy violations by his press secretary Darian Ward. 

Ward was found to be withholding thousands of her own emails that should have been released under the Texas Public Information Act.

The violations were outlined in a letter dated Dec. 11, sent to Ward by her supervisors and the mayor.

It states,

A Texas Public Information Act Request was submitted seeking Ward’s emails over three years. It also referenced her production company Joy In Motion. Ward turned over 30 pages of emails to a journalist with only one email relevant to the request. The city’s Office of Inspector General Investigated and found nearly 5,000 emails related to Ward’s personal production company.

Mayor Turner says neither he nor his office alerted the office of the attorney general of Texas even though they stated in the letter that Ward “misrepresented to the requestor the volume of documents regarding the TPIA request under state law.”

The letter clearly states Ward lied to her bosses and lays out the four policy violations. It also details a 10-day suspension without pay signed by the the mayor’s communication director Alan Bernstein, his chief of staff Marvellette Hunter and Turner himself.

The mayor had praise for Ward during a news conference on Tuesday.

“She has done her job extremely well since I’ve been here,” Turner said.

Channel 2 Investigates asked Turner if he truly felt that she had done her job extremely well considering that she did her personal work on the taxpayers' dime.

Turner responded without hesitation.

“Yes sir, she has done the job that I have asked her to do extremely well," he said.