County judge race heats up with accusations

October 13, 2008 4:47:07 PM PDT
There are accusations that Harris County Judge Ed Emmett used his county paid computer and his staff for political campaign use. Emmett says neither he nor his office have done anything wrong.

Democratic challenger for county judge, David Mincberg, has asked the Harris County District Attorney to look at a dozen emails to and from Ed Emmett which Mincberg claims are unethical and potentially illegal. Minceberg calls the emails "dirty dozen."

A number of the emails released, challenger Mincberg says, show Emmett using taxpayer-funded staff and computers to raise money for and coordinate his political campaign.

"Using the manpower and the resources of a taxpayer funded office to run a political campaign is unethical, possibly illegal and is part of a culture of corruption of Harris County today," Mincberg said.

In one email, Emmett's executive assistant responded that she would put on his calendar a meeting Mincberg says where Emmett later raised over $100,000 in campaign contributions.

"At no time does a county employee ever work on my campaign," Judge Emmett said.

In another, Emmett responded saying "great" after his executive assistant sent him specifics on a meeting with a group of engineers who Mincberg says later contributed more than $70,000 to the Emmett campaign.

"The emails that have been released clearly show political activity going on in Mr. Emmett's office," Mincberg said.

Of Emmett's appointments and his executive assistant who helps track them, Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford tells Eyewitness News "her job is to keep note of those appointments...there's nothing wrong with that."

In fact a 1993 ruling from the Texas Ethics Commission, Stafford says, concludes that state resources and employees can be used to keep track of a candidate's schedule.

"You should be ashamed David, you should be ashamed," Emmett told Mincberg in a debate.

At a debate today between the two candidates for county judge, Emmett chastised his challenger insisting neither he nor his staff has done anything wrong.

"Mr. Mincberg is just desperate," Emmett told us. "He spent close to a million of his own dollars and he got no traction. He's well behind in the polls and so now he's just going to start throwing mud."

Harris County District Attorney Ken Magidson says his office is reviewing this issue to determine whether an investigation is appropriate.

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