Email shows Ellis concerned over African art’s ownership months before KPRC 2 Investigates report

Harris County commissioner admits massive private art collection ownership is unclear

HOUSTON – The email KPRC 2 Investigates showcased in Monday night’s report was identified after reviewing thousands of emails through a Texas Public Information Act request. In a section near the end of the email, Ellis wrote, “update agreements with Sam in case he does not own all the art. This keeps me up at night. He need(s) to sign something and notarize it. We need more than just his word.”

Email from commissioner Rodney Ellis shows concern over African Art’s ownership (KPRC)

The email raises eyebrows for multiple reasons. First, is the time the email was written, which was “4:32 a.m.” The other is the date, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, nearly five months prior to our report. However, what caught county officials off-guard when KPRC 2 Investigates initially made the request, is the name of the sender, “Glenn Rodney,” an email alias of Commissioner Ellis that is a combination of his first and middle names in reverse order.

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Officials within the county had no idea of that name being connected to an email address until we informed them of our discovery.

Ultimately, after several requests for the full production of the emails for “Glenn Rodney,” KPRC 2 eventually was provided with all emails that were sent by this alias address.

We recently asked Commissioner Ellis why the art collection and its unclear ownership kept him up at night? “I don’t know. I guess I was up,” said Ellis.

KPRC 2 analyst Ed Emmett had a different take.

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