• July 29, 2014

Temple seeks to withhold some of Morales’ emails

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Posted: Saturday, March 8, 2014 4:30 am

TEMPLE — The city is asking the Texas Attorney General’s Office to allow it to withhold some of the emails between Mayor Pro Tem Judy Morales and members of the City Council, Mayor Danny Dunn and city employees, according to a Thursday letter sent to the attorney general’s office.

The Temple Daily Telegram filed an open records request Feb. 14 for Morales’ emails beginning Jan. 1, 2011, and ending Feb. 14.

The city indicated to Amanda Crawford, chief of the attorney general’s Open Records Division, that more than 3,000 emails were discovered that fit the criteria.

The city agreed to turn over the emails it reviewed and determined do not fall under any exception from public disclosure, Deputy City Attorney Nan Rodriguez told Crawford in the letter. Rodriguez also informed Crawford the city plans to finish its review of the emails and release them no later than March 17. The city cited 21 sections of the Texas Government Code as reasons to exclude some of the emails.

The exceptions included confidential information by constitutional, statutory or judicial decision; confidentiality of certain personnel information; litigation or settlement negotiations involving the state or a political subdivision; information related to competition or bidding; certain legislative documents; and certain legal matters.

Morales’ emails while she was the director of the Temple HELP Center were requested in November by a Telegram reporter. In a recorded phone conversation, Morales said she heard “chatter” at a council meeting that the Telegram would be looking into “misappropriation of funds” during her 2011 election.

She called Mari Paul, then her assistant at the HELP Center, the following day and told her she was deleting emails and documents from her county computer.

Morales asked Paul to do the same or give her the password so she could do it.

No charges have been filed as an investigation continues.

The emails the Telegram received indicated Morales was using her county computer, county resources and county employees to assist her in her 2011 campaign for council, a violation of county policies and possibly state laws. Morales also filed for re-election to her council seat in the May 10 municipal election.

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