Houston DA In The Hot Seat – Again! Chuck Rosenthal and Those Damning E-Mails

“I love you” and “I want to kiss you behind your right ear.” Alright those steamy e-mails have already been reported – as they were sent from Houston, TX District Attorney – Chuck Rosenthal – to his administrative assistant. So we all figured out that, in this case, Chuck was thinking. Or maybe he was but with the wrong head. (If I offended anyone here, forgive me, but I do believe what I said was true).

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Then in early January 2008 (well, we’re still in early January – anyway) Chuck Rosenthal announced his withdrawal from the race for re-election. His withdrawal was time-stamped three minutes before the deadline for candidates to be included on the primary ballot. Interesting twist.

Oh, but there’s more.

In a Houston Chronicle story it seems that new (NEW) e-mails were released on Tuesday where Mr. Rosenthal, yet once again, is caught with his pants down again (so to speak – no pun intended) with his choice of e-mails. This time the content – racist jokes and political strategies related to his (former) re-election campaign. Likewise, there were numerous sexually explicit images found (although whether they were forwarded is unclear).

Now Rosenthal is being pressured to resign.

The latest batch of 730 e-mails was met with concern by Harris County GOP leaders, who had already successfully pressured him to abandon his re-election bid.

“It’s time for Chuck Rosenthal to pack his bags and leave,” said county GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill.

Now, we all know that Chuck Rosenthal never in his wildest dreams thought that his daily e-mail – that he sent back in December related to a case would ever have the effect that it is having today. But then, even as the Harris County District Attorney – Mr. Rosenthal must have missed that day in law school when they taught (big assumption here) that every choice has a consequence.

According to the Houston Chronicle some of the e-mails contained the following:

Among e-mails that concerned Woodfill were video clips of nudity and sex acts and a racist joke forwarded by Rosenthal that compares former President Bill Clinton to a black man.

The e-mail says Clinton played the saxophone, smoked marijuana and gets a check from the government each month.

In one e-mail from Sam Siegler to Rosenthal, an attached video shows women having their breasts exposed after men forcibly pulled down their blouses in public. The video called the act “sharking.”

E-mails about a barbecue fundraiser for Rosenthal’s planned re-election campaign also were sent to his employees, the documents reveal.

Oops…that last one might be his down fall.

It is widely considered illegal in Texas for public officials to campaign during work hours using government-owned equipment. Such instances in the past have led to charges of official misconduct, or theft by a public official.

“I’d like to kick off the 2008 re-election campaign with a barbecue in early October,” Rosenthal wrote to his staff in one e-mail in August, as he announced a planning session for the event. “I appreciate your help, and I am looking forward to seeing you there.”

Another e-mail announced Gail Hays, a captain investigator with the district attorney’s office, would be at the credit union parking garage with barbecue tickets. It was unclear who sent that message. Hays did not appear at the garage because of bad weather, a follow-up e-mail states.

Amorous feeling – well we all have them from time to time. Every received or sent a joke via e-mail? Likely, if you’re reading this the answer is YES. But, if you break the law when you e-mail about your campaign and your job is to uphold the law – you might have just crossed the line.

As GOP leaders are calling for Chuck Rosenthal’s resignation – what do you think?

Business ethics speaker – Chuck Gallagher – signing off…

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