Embattled former press secretary Darian Ward accepted a plea deal today offered by the Harris County District Attorney’s office for “abuse of official capacity.” The charges stem from Ward failing to turn over a number of records requested that dealt with her personal business dealings during business hours and using public resources.

If Ward fulfills her pre-trial diversion obligations, as supervised under the Harris County Probation Department, her charges will be expunged after a year. She’s expected to complete 30 hours of community service, pay a $500 fine, and stay out of legal trouble for a year.

In a prepared statement Ward said, “I want to apologize and take full responsibility for my actions. My intention was to create TV and film content that would elevate the city of Houston to a national platform. A city that I have loved for more than twenty years.”

“My intention was pure, however I let my desire get in the way of my good judgment. I want to apologize to Mayor Turner who gave me his full support and offered me the opportunity to serve the city I love,” she continued.

Turner stood by Ward despite mounting evidence against her.

After receiving a public records request regarding her use of work email for personal business, Ward turned over 30 emails claiming that there were no others. A subsequent investigation found out there were over 5,000 emails. Turner initially gave her a two-week, paid suspension, but under mounting public pressure Ward resigned.

Ward served as press secretary to both Mayor Turner and former Mayor Annise Parker.

We reached out to Mayor Turner, his office had no comment.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.

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