Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he will not fire Darian Ward

By Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner remains adamant in defending his decision to not terminate his press secretary, Darian Ward.

Channel 2 caught up with Turner at a public event downtown Tuesday night.

"Everybody can't be HR (human resources), OK? 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."

This was the first time the mayor has spoken publicly since Channel 2 Investigates obtained more than 1,000 of Ward's city emails, including many showing that, for years, she used taxpayer time, on numerous occasions, to promote her production company and pursue reality television projects in New York and Los Angeles.

The revelation has led several City Council members, including at-large member Mike Knox, to call for Ward's termination. 

"I think the mayor is making a mistake at this point," Knox told Channel 2 Investigator Mario Diaz on Monday. "I think the mistake that he's making is trying to keep Darian on board."

Channel 2 Investigates has confirmed with the Harris County District Attorney's Office that it is looking into the case to determine if Ward did more than violate city policy. Prosecutors are investigating the possibility that she broke state law.

Turner remains firm in his decision to suspend Ward for two weeks without pay.

"If people disagree with that, I respect their right to disagree. I respect their right," Turner said. "But ,for now, I'm the mayor of the city of Houston. I looked at it like I will look at all cases. I'm the one who signed the letter saying 'you violate policy' and I'm the one who determined what I thought the appropriate penalty was."

Channel 2 Investigates has learned that the city plans to release more of Ward's emails by the end of this week.

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