in Houston, Texas
Houston Airport System official who blocked records request, lied to investigators, got bonuses and pay raises
Thursday, May 03, 2012, 12:19PM CST
By Steve Miller
planes

The human resources chief at the Houston Airport System received a $250 bonus the year she was found guilty of deceiving an investigator for the city of Houston during an inquiry into her withholding public records.

Records show that Maria Fink received the $250 payout in 2009 and 2010. An investigation concluded in June 2010 by the city’s Office of Inspector General cited Fink for failing to comply with the state’s open records laws in response to a records request filed by Texas Watchdog in October 2009.

The investigation found that Fink claimed she had received advice from the city attorney’s office that allowed her to withhold over 60 pages of a personnel file that was requested, but the specific attorney she claimed gave her that advice said she had never contacted him.

Instead, the city attorney’s office had directed her to release the information, which she initially failed to do.

Fink’s salary has increased 7.4 percent since her hire in 2009, despite the OIG finding, from $103,600 to $111,283.

Ian Wadsworth, who was found in the same investigation to have lied to city inspectors, also received bonuses of $250 in 2009 and 2010. His pay since the infraction has increased 11.4 percent from $155,000 to $172,776. Wadsworth is chief commercial officer at HAS.

Neither Fink nor Wadsworth was disciplined for their deception, which included violations of mayoral dictates, according to public records. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who took office in January 2010, has declined to comment on the investigation.

In December 2010, Parker removed the authority of the inspector general from the police department and placed it under the auspices of the city attorney’s office. Robert Doguim, a former FBI agent who was hired in December 2010 to head the OIG, resigned in February, citing a lack of authority bestowed by the city to his office.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of planes at Bush Intercontinental Airport by flickr user prayitno, used via a Creative Commons license.

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