New emails show press secretary used account to ask for discount airline tickets

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New emails show press secretary used account to ask for discount airline tickets. (KTRK)

A second batch of emails from the inbox of press secretary Darian Ward showed a sustained campaign of use for side projects, ranging from her work with a charity to a representative of an airline showing serious concern he was being asked for consideration from a government employee. The founder of that charity then implied Ward use her connections to get someone in a "powerful position" to make it happen anyway.

Ward's emails became the focus of scrutiny when it was revealed she lied to her boss about how many emails she had relating to personal projects she had done on city time. A journalist asked for those emails, she told him and Alan Bernstein, director of communications, she had 30. A secondary search done by the city's Office of Inspector General found 5,000 pages.

Read the second batch of emails below - on mobile? Tap here to read open the documents full screen

Those emails are being sorted through and released as representatives can take out information like personal email addresses and cell phone numbers. Roughly 1,600 emails were released late last week.

RELATED: City press secretary has little to say when confronted by ABC13

In this batch, Ward kept up her campaign of trying to pitch reality shows and revealed the seventh show she had tried to get off the ground, a show about the parents of young music stars.

Perhaps most concerning, a request to Southwest Airlines for advice on how to get cheap airline tickets for girls involved in the nonprofit Ward was working with. The representative replied with "real challenges" that Ward was sending him requests as a government employee with a government email account.

"[C]haritable requests cannot come from a government worker or email system," he wrote, saying a committee made decisions on those things anyway.

The request was not coming officially from the city of Houston or Ward as a representative of the city, despite the fact she signed the email with the city seal, her city title and city email address.

Later, the founder of the charity Smahrt Girl Foundation Pamela Ellis, suggested to Ward she get "someone from a powerful position to make a call."

Ellis told ABC13 that Ward was never paid to lobby on behalf of the organization and served as a volunteer and an advisor. Ellis' IT business was shopped around the city by Ward in the emails, but Ellis was never hired, she said, nor did she ever attempt to get hired by the city.

The emails also show Ward used her influence to get city of Houston proclamations for her friends and colleagues under both mayor Annise Parker and Sylvester Turner.

Parker said the actions were fireable and didn't know what Ward was up to, according to reporting by the Houston Chronicle

Ward also had aspirations to head up a new city office of Media and Entertainment, pitching it, and herself, to the city's HR chief and the two previous chiefs of staff for Mayor Turner. That office would be in charge of film and television productions for the city of Houston and anything produced by Houston Television, the city-owned municipal channel. Ward used HTV multiple times to shoot her own personal shows and projects. HTV calendars show at least 23 hours of booked time for Ward's personal projects.

RELATED: Press secretary used city TV show to promote her projects

Turner has said he considers the case closed after he suspended Ward for two weeks. While paid to speak to the media, she wouldn't speak to Ted Oberg or other members of the media.

There is still another 1,200 emails yet to be released, but late Thursday, city attorneys sent ABC13 a notice citing "third party" objections to releasing all of the information. They claim the release would "implicate third party" interests, however acknowledge they did not follow state law in requesting an opinion from the state about whether or not they were allowed to do so. The city missed a mandatory 15-day deadline.

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