Panel issues findings in ethics complaint against Jones

The panel determined that it would not forward the ethics complaint against Council Member Jolanda Jones to the full Houston City Council.

September 29, 2011 4:52:35 PM PDT
A Houston City Council committee has issued its findings following an Office of Inspector General report alleging misconduct by Council Member Jolanda Jones.

The OIG started investigating Jones earlier this year after allegations that she handed out "Know Your Rights With The Police" business cards with her Council office phone number followed by the words, "To report misconduct," as well as the phone number for her law practice with the words, "To hire me as a lawyer," at a city forum on police brutality.

Among other allegations were that Jones used city employees to drive her to and from court during the work day and used city resources for her private practice.

Jones is also alleged to have interfered with the investigation, and been untruthful and failed to cooperate during the investigation. However, the panel said they found no evidence to support those claims.

After meeting with Council Member Jones, the panel determined that Jones has to remove her Council office phone number from the "Know Your Rights With The Police" business cards; conduct ethics training for her staff; take steps to physically separate her business activities and Council duties; and create a personnel record showing her staffers are not on city time while conveying Jones to court.

Jones issued a statement Thursday which read in part, "I have never used my role as a council member to benefit anything or anyone other than the people I was elected to serve. I am disappointed in a process that allowed for this sort of negligence to occur. I share the Review Panel's concern regarding a lack of thoroughness in the OIG investigatory processes and it is my hope that changes will be made to prevent further situations that result in nothing more than waste and injustice."

The panel -- consisting of Mayor Annise Parker, Council Member Sue Lovell and Council Member C.O. Bradford -- concluded in the report it's not in the city's best interest to refer the matter to the full Council for action.

Council Member Mike Sullivan who filed a complaint against Jones says he respects the review panel's finding, but also says the OIG report sustained almost all the allegations againstJones.

Just last week, the Harris County District Attorney's Office said Jones would not face any criminal charges due to lack of evidence of wrongdoing.

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