DA asked to join investigation of Councilwoman Jones

Houston City Council Member Jolanda Jones is accused of using city resources to support her private law practice.

July 19, 2011 11:56:36 AM PDT
There are new developments in an ethics investigation into Houston Councilwoman Jolanda Jones. Now comes the possibility of criminal fallout over allegations that she used city resources to run her legal practice. We've confirmed that the Office of Inspector General in Houston has forwarded its findings to the Harris County DA's office for a possible criminal investigation.

It all started earlier this year when Jones passed out flyers describing law practice that had her city hall phone number on it.

That led to complaints and an official OIG investigation was launched.

Since then, OIG published its findings, which said she used city property and city time to conduct her private law practice.

That prompted a 3-member panel review, which includes the mayor. That panel has met on a number of occasions, but it was late last week that the OIG decided to refer the whole thing to the district attorney's office. Mayor Annise Parker told us Monday afternoon that it wasn't her call, but it needed to be done.

"The inspector general has the independent authority to engage other investigative agencies if he feels it's appropriate," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

"Do you feel it's appropriate?" we asked the mayor.

"I would have wished he had waited until we did our work but at some point, it needed to be done," she said.

A spokesperson for Councilwoman Jolanda Jones released the following statement on Monday afternoon.

    "While we are disappointed that the city attorney has bypassed his own process, confidentiality has once again been breached and we were not notified. We are not surprised by this latest act of political pettiness."

Jones' spokesperson says the councilwoman is fully cooperating with the investigation.

As for the 3-member panel that's been discussing Jones' future at city hall, Mayor Parker says they're still meeting about it.

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