Officials react to request for criminal investigation

May 17, 2011 11:23:45 AM PDT
County leaders are reacting to the Port of Houston reportedly asking the district attorney to launch a criminal investigation into the port's dealings. It comes after an extensive 13 Undercover investigation. The county attorney's office has opened its own investigation. In the meantime, the port chairman and president have written a letter to District Attorney Pat Lykos asking that the DA's office investigate the allegations against them. That letter reads in part, "We firmly believe that the Port Authority and the people who work for it conduct their business honorably and lawfully. However, in recent days we have heard claims that the Port of Houston Authority and some of its public officials and staff have not acted in full compliance with state law."

This letter follows a probe by13 Undercover. In that report, questions arose about Port President Alec Dreyer's use of the organization's tour vessel for a private party, and possibly conflicts of interest between Port Chairman Jim Edmonds and AECOM, a company that does business with the port.

This morning I asked Assistant County Attorney Terry O'Rourke his thoughts on the port leadership's letter to the DA's office.

He said, "I believe it's very good. I really, sincerely appreciate when people come in who are under investigation with full cooperation. That's what I hope we're getting."

In response to the requested investigation, the Harris County DA's office said, "We cannot confirm or deny a criminal investigation until the point when, and if, a criminal charge is filed."

In the meantime, two port commissioners have asked that Dreyer's employment with the port be placed on a May 24th agenda of their own commission meeting.