HOUSTON – There is more fallout on Monday, following the disclosure of more than 1,000 emails that Mayor Sylvester Turner’s press secretary, Darian Ward, failed to release months ago.
“Essentially, what Ms. Ward has done is taken money out of the public coffers to operate her business, and that’s improper,” said Council Member Mike Knox.
Knox spoke with Channel 2 Investigates while standing on the seal of the city of Houston at City Hall.
“I think the mayor is making a mistake, at this point. I think the mistake he is making is he is trying to keep Darian on board,” he said.
Knox and Greg Travis were two of only a small handful of City Council members who have gone on the record with Channel 2 Investigates since the email scandal broke on Jan. 2.
Travis did not mince words when asked if he had read some of the emails released by the city on Friday.
“I think she needs to be terminated,” he said.
Ward clearly misused city of Houston’s resources while collecting a city paycheck to pursue a reality TV show project in either Los Angeles or New York City. The behavior dates back to Mayor Anise Parker’s administration.
When asked how it is possible that two mayors were asleep at the wheel, Travis said, “I don’t know. I don’t know why that occurred.”
Late Monday afternoon, Council Member Brenda Stardig sent the following statement to Channel 2 Investigates:
“I have concerns about anyone running a side business and profiting at the expense of the taxpayers. We must continue to keep the public’s trust, and we have a responsibility to be effective in our roles serving the public. I take these actions very seriously.”
Ward could not be found at her office for most of the afternoon on Monday. Meanwhile, Turner was in meetings all day, according to a spokesman.
Parker told Channel 2 Investigates that she believes Ward should be let go.
“She (Ward) clearly knew it was inappropriate," Parker said.
The Harris County district attorney has been investigating Ward for not releasing her emails in accordance with Texas law.
Knox feels an investigation into the matter is simple because the facts speak for themselves.
“Honestly, I don’t see why it’s taken so long. It’s a pretty clear case, as far as I’m concerned. Nevertheless, it’s in the hands of the DA right now. We’ll see,” he said.
“We will review the evidence and apply the law once the evidence is received from the City of Houston’s Office of Inspector General,” a spokesperson for District Attorney Kim Ogg told Channel 2 Investigates on Jan. 8.
It is unknown where the investigation stands.