HOUSTON – It’s a controversy Mayor Sylvester Turner has had to endure during the first weeks of 2018.
It revolves around previously unreleased emails by his press secretary, Darian Ward.
It led to a lengthy suspension without pay for Ward, as well as an investigation by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
On Friday night, Channel 2 Investigates obtained more than 1,000 of Ward's emails.
While defending Ward on Jan. 3, Turner said she has done her job “extremely well.”
What Ward's emails reveal involves wasting taxpayers’ dollars by pitching a reality television show around two different concepts.
One of her productions was called “Million Dollar Challenge.”
There have been numerous instances over the years of Ward pushing her reality television anywhere possible. In one email in July 2017, she states, “I will check the Mayor’s schedule,” but in the next paragraph she changes topics with the sender and touts her “two projects” in development, hoping for a meeting with Warner Bros.
One of the emails included a submission release describing a show as "Shark Tank" meets "The Apprentice" in stilettos.
In a November 2014 email, Ward discusses a show called “My First Million,” writing that the mother of Texans legend Andre Johnson changed her mind and that her “personality was a little flat.”
In the same email, she goes on to add she is in talks with Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles; former boxing champion George Foreman; and Jeff Hoffman of Priceline. All of this with the City of Houston logo and her title of press secretary right underneath the body of this email and numerous others.
Turner issued a statement upon the release of the emails that reads:
“Darian Ward's actions were unacceptable and against policy. She was suspended for two full weeks without pay and was instructed to cease doing personal business on city time. Any subsequent violation could result in termination. A letter was also sent to all employees advising them of the policy."