Recipient of romantic emails from DA gets raise

January 24, 2008 5:37:27 PM PST
He was caught sending her romantic emails on the job. Now we've learned that District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal approved a big pay raise for his secretary. They are spending your money. Chuck Rosenthal is already under investigation by the Texas attorney general for racially and sexually charged emails. But now, we are taking a look at what he had to say about how to spend your tax dollars. And, some of it is going straight to his personal assistant.

It certainly appears that the raises in question are above board. They went to 167 support staff in the district attorney's office. and the office worked for roughly a year to get the commissioners' approval. But in light of everything that's happened at the DA's office in recent weeks, there is one paycheck that's raising some eyebrows.

A lot of work and study apparently went into getting the raises for the staff. In August, Rosenthal sent an email to former DA Johnny Holmes in which he mentioned trying to raise the salaries of his staff and refers to surveys he'd sent around the state, learning "the idiot Dallas County elected to be district attorney is paid $200,000/year".

On December 18, commissioners' court approved the increases for several county departments, including the DA's office.

[Read more of the emails on the pay increases]

"No, they're not unusual," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. "And we always have to remember that we have countywide elected officials and they're responsible for their operation."

Of the 167 DA employees who got more money, 47 got the maximum raise, including Kerry Stevens, Rosenthal's executive assistant, with whom he acknowledged an affair years ago and with whom the married DA recently exchanged romantic emails.

Her salary went from $78,000 per year to $89,500. There are 54 people countywide with the job title 'executive assistant'. Her pay is ranked twelfth. The DA's staff raises are based on merit as determined by a department committee.

Was she really worthy of the maximum raise? It's hard to know.

"I think it's a little unfair to the employee. I don't know anything about her, her job performance," said Emmett.

Regardless, here's an email from assistant Stevens to Rosenthal in August at 1:19 in the afternoon on a Tuesday: "Sorry. I didn't hear the phone ring. I was napping on your couch."

That was in the midst of the DA's efforts to increase those salaries.

In speaking to a handful of people at the county Thursday, the raises themselves raise no flags. Cost of living increases and across the board "merit" raises are not uncommon. But that's likely hard to say unequivocally, given what we've learned about the DA's office in recent weeks.

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