More Rosenthal emails surface

January 9, 2008 9:50:47 AM PST
You pay his salary and now Eyewitness News has discovered new emails involving Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal. These emails detail how he spent county time on non-county business.

Judge Emmett is calling for Chuck Rosenthal to get his explanation for the latest emails. If Rosenthal cannot offer a good explanation, then Judge Emmett will begin contacting other county officials to explore how to proceed with forcing Rosenthal to resign.

We've been covering the fallout over the email scandal for weeks including up to last week, when Rosenthal decided not to run for re-election.

We got thousands of pages Tuesday night. Admittedly most of them are benign, full of case work and office policy. But there are many in the documents we received that could question what you are paying Rosenthal to do.

The emails are a much closer look into what happens at the DA's office on the taxpayer's dime and how some DA staffers spend their time. The emails are considered questionable.

Before he dropped out of the race six days ago, Chuck Rosenthal was running for re-election while at the same time running the DA's office for the biggest county in the state.

The emails we're digging through show it was a team effort. Rosenthal and his subordinates repeatedly email DA staff to remind them about campaign fundraiser.

And when you look at who's working on his campaign, it's a who's who of the DA's office. If they did it all on their own time, on their own computers, there's nothing wrong. The problem for Rosenthal is that most are sent during the work day and between computers Harris County taxpayers pay for.

Rosenthal was forced to hand over the emails as part of a federal lawsuit. Rosenthal isn't named as a defendant, but is a witness and was forced to answer a subpoena.

Now Rosenthal could be forced to answer more questions. For example, how appropriate is it for him to use county employees to help his political consultant fight parole for a former employee?

Or to smear his then opponent in the DA's race, former police chief Clarence Bradford. In one email Rosenthal says Bradford "set HPD back 100 years."

In another email he inquires his campaign consultant about digging up history on Bradford's time at the police department.

Rosenthal is due in federal court later this month for a contempt hearing after being accused of deleting some 2,500 emails. We may never know what was in those emails.

Rosenthal did not comment on the story.

Stay with Eyewitness News for more on this developing story.