Jolanda Jones Fires Back: A Grievance Against the City Attorney, and Big Blasts From Her Spokesperson (UPDATED)
Houston City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones, the subject of a city inspector general investigation, has filed a Texas State Bar grievance against City Attorney David Feldman.
Jolanda Jones firing shots of her own.
Jones's spokeswoman, Kelly Cripe, would not provide a copy of the grievance, but she said the complaint relates to how Feldman has handled the investigative and panel-review process that has put Jones in the hot seat. Among the concerns:
-- The Office of Inspector General is still questioning Jones' former staff members, despite the fact that it released supposed conclusive findings of its investigation in June. The findings said Jones used city resources for her private law practice and did not cooperate with investigators. For the last two weeks, Jones, Mayor Annise Parker, and council members Sue Lovell and C.O. Bradford have been embroiled in meetings over those findings. So we're not sure how they can hold a review if the OIG is still questioning witnesses.
-- The investigation's "smoking gun" proving that Jones used city resources to further her private practice is a three-page fax that was not part of the OIG's original findings and did not materialize until last week. Cripe says the fax was an emergency motion for continuance for a client of Jones' who had been hospitalized with a stroke and would not be able to make a scheduled court hearing. Although investigators are now questioning staffers from as far back as 2008, this emergency motion is the only evidence Jones has been confronted with.
-- For the first two months of the investigation, Jones was not made aware of the nature of the allegations, or who brought them, yet she and her staffers were still asked to give sworn statements. Jones' attorney had to file an open records request to find out why she was being investigated; only after the city's lawyers sought a State Attorney General's opinion that they provided Jones with a copy of the complaint.
"I need to run outside real quick and check to see if there's an American flag flying anywhere," Cripe says. "From my understanding of the U.S....justice system...a person should know what they are being accused of and who is accusing them."
Cripe says that although the initial complaint stemmed from an informational card bearing Jones's City Hall number that was distributed at a community meeting on police brutality, the investigation at some point "became an investigation of her entire tenure as a council member. So I think that a relevant point to make [is] that from 2008 to 2011, all they have is a three-page fax."
She continues: "The council member was at City Hall and working at city business when she was made aware of the client's medical condition. As his attorney, she is ethically obligated to notify the court as soon as she finds out about this -- and before 5 p.m. [the filing deadline] because if he would have missed his court date, he would have been sitting in bed at the hospital with a stroke and a warrant." (She says the fax was sent at 4:47 pm).
Alleging that the smoking-fax has been a sticking point with investigators, Cripe adds, "I think that it would be a fascinating study...to see how many other city employees have ever used a city fax machine to send a document to their child's school, to a doctor, to a mortgage company, to an attorney. Or equally fascinating, would be for an investigation to see if any city employee -- and I'm talking about from top to bottom...has ever sent an e-mail from their city computer using their city e-mail address for personal reasons."