Mayor responds to suspension of his press secretary

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Darian Ward, Turner's press secretary, stands behind the mayor in an undated photo. (KTRK)

Mayor Sylvester Turner made his first public comments Wednesday regarding his press secretary's suspension for hiding thousands of emails that should've been turned over after an open records request.

"The matter is closed," Turner said, after both city legal and human resources reviewed the issue.

Darian Ward was suspended for ten days over the Christmas break when Turner's communication director asked for her work to be checked "for accuracy" a city memo said.

When the Office of Inspector General did a search for records that should have been turned over, they found the discrepancy.

Ward was asked to turn over emails relating to her work on non-city related projects, including a private side business called "Joy in Motion Productions."

Ward told Trent Siebert, the journalist who requested the records, and her bosses that she only had 30 emails relating to the request.

In fact, there were about 5,000.

"I have no question with her work performance," Turner said. "She's done her job extremely well. Having said that, no city employee should be doing their personal business on city time."

Turner said he is not worried about the appearance of Ward remaining in his administration. His punishment was above what was recommended, Turner said.

Council members Knox and Kubosh Tuesday said Ward should've lost her job for using city time for her personal projects, some of which included pitches to TV producers for reality shows.

Turner said there is no "ethical issue" within his administration and is satisfied with the punishment for Ward.

When the story broke on Tuesday, Turner declined comment.

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