in Houston, Texas
Harris County attorney’s office kept 2009 findings on financial official under wraps
Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 02:38PM CST
By Mike Cronin
county attorney's office logo

Harris County’s government ethics watchdog failed to disclose a report that alleged a county official had breached his fiduciary duty and violated the law, Wayne Dolcefino of ABC 13 KTRK-TV reports today.

County Attorney Vince Ryan never made public a 2009 memo that documented how the former director of the county financial services, Edwin Harrison, was steering taxpayer money to certain brokers and that he had photographs of prostitutes on a government computer.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said he didn’t see the memo until Dolcefino showed it to him.

“That whole episode was so frustrating to me,” Emmett told Dolcefino.

Ryan’s office also found Harrison’s phone number, together with written warnings to stay away from him, on the web page of an escort service. Ryan chose not to make that information public either.

An internal county attorney’s office memo from May 2010 recommended that “Mr. Harrison be removed as director of financial services.” But Harrison kept his job until he was indicted months later. He was demoted and retired last year.

“I believe (Harrison) was left where he was longer than he should have been because – I don't know that you'd call it political protection or bureaucratic protection – but clearly there were people who didn't him to be removed,” Emmett said.

Harrison favored certain firms even though they allegedly overcharged the county more than $1.14 million over six years, the Houston Chronicle reported. The companies later agreed to pay back the county.

"We recovered a million-and-a-half dollars to the taxpayers of Harris County, and I think that's significant," Harris County Inspector General Nick Lykos told Dolcefino.

Dolcefino, who has been doggedly investigating the county attorney’s office, plans to show TV viewers tonight e-mails that he says Ryan and his county attorney’s office colleagues don’t want the public to see.

***
Contact Mike Cronin at mike@texaswatchdog.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

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Comments
GS
Thursday, 05/03/2012 - 10:18AM

Hey don't forget your own stories on the County Attorney's Office in 2009, showing that they had a friend of Vince Ryan's (politician Marc Hill) working on staff at the same time he was representing clients SUING Harris County. County Attorney Vince Ryan and his assistant Terry O'Rourke then let Hill resign and brought him back a month later under contract for even more money.

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