As I've written many, many times before, Kim Ogg is no prosecutor.
She's just another ambitious politician who currently holds a political office that happens to be that of the county's top prosecutor. Long before her successful election in 2016, she had been a Republican and then a Democrat. She shifts with the wind for whatever benefits her. In her three and a half years as District Attorney, it is a wonder that she doesn't have whiplash as she has bounced back and forth between portraying herself as Ogg the Progressive and Ogg the Law & Order Prosecutor.
Kim Ogg has demonstrated time and again that she resembles Huey P. Long far more than Johnny Holmes when it comes to being a District Attorney.
Ogg has unabashedly used asset forfeiture money acquired by the Office (that's the money the Office seizes from people charged with crimes under the theory that they were illegally gotten gains) to hire her political allies under the guise of them working in "community outreach" (see former Houston Police Department Chief and former HCDA Candidate Clarence Bradford, and former City Councilman Dwight Boykins, whose temporary tenure apparently only lasted through Ogg's contested Democratic primary this spring). Then there was the hiring of former city councilman Mark Goldberg as a "baby" prosecutor who hung out in the misdemeanor trial bureau just long enough to do this before being promoted to the upper administration.
Speaking of Mark Goldberg, a quick check of the Harris County District Attorney's roster has him listed as belonging to the somewhat vague "Administrative Division." However, Mark is signing off on his e-mails as "Community Outreach Committee Member" these days and that's where our latest story begins.
On Tuesday, an "All Prosecutor" e-mail went out to the Assistant District Attorneys employed by the citizens of Harris County, but under the supervision of D.A. Ogg. The e-mail was from Boss Ogg herself.
The subject title had the all caps command to "VOLUNTEER" for an event arranged by The Ministers Coalition of Harris County. As noted in the e-mail, the event was a "voter registration drive" coupled with a "food giveaway" where "DA Kim Ogg will be speaking." According to Kim's e-mail, she was "looking for volunteers."
But here's the funny thing about the word "volunteer." It's kinda-sorta a derivative from the word "voluntary," which means a free-will decision to do something. Or at least, that's how I learned it, but then again, I am an Aggie.
But the next paragraph threw my entire understanding of the word into question by saying: "Part of every employee's performance evaluation includes a grade for personal development. This includes community activities and volunteering for projects like this." She then encouraged people to "apply" (as if there was some sort of honor in being selected for this volunteer opportunity) with Mark Goldberg at his county-issued e-mail address.
Significantly, the e-mail was signed by Kim.
So what this e-mail was really saying was: "Hey, it's me. Your boss, Kim. I'm going to give some free stuff to people while registering them to vote so that they will have some real positive vibes toward me in November when it's time to vote. I'm going to need some of my people to help me pull off this campaign stunt. You are going to be graded on your performance evaluation by whether or not you help me. Hugs and kisses, Kimbra."
Depending on how you look at it, that type of thing could be what we call "illegal." Under some interpretations, it looks a little like Official Oppression.
At a minimum, it is insanely unethical.
It took a few seconds for someone to grab a screenshot and ultimately send to me. I exercised my discretion for about three seconds before sharing that screenshot on Twitter. It started popping up on Facebook pretty soon after that. The condemnation of the e-mail was so strong that Kim did something she never does.
She walked it back.
Well, I mean, she "walked it back" for her, by which I mean, she made somebody totally fall on the sword for the e-mail that she TOTALLY SIGNED WITH HER OWN NAME AND SENT FROM HER OWN E-MAIL ACCOUNT.
That person was Misdemeanor Two, no wait, I mean Upper Administrator, no wait, I mean Community Outreach Committee Member Mark Goldberg, who wrote the most stunningly "Good God, how stupid do you think we are?" retraction e-mail in the history of retraction e-mails.
I mean, this e-mail has been out for a day and a half and I still can't read it without laughing.
"Late yesterday afternoon an email went out from DA Ogg that should have gone out under my name." -- man, I wish I had a dollar for all of those e-mails that I've sent to people that inadvertently went out under somebody else's name. It happens all the time.
"What you actually got was a draft form with some misinformation that was inadvertently distributed in that form." -- You know what is worse than accidentally sending out an e-mail in the wrong person's name? When you send out completely wrong stuff under that wrong person's name!
"Additionally, I would like to add that no one is ever required to volunteer." -- please totally disregard that whole thingy we said early about volunteer or be punished. You may now resume your original understanding of the word "volunteer."
To make matters even more interesting, the Houston Chronicle's Samantha Ketterer tweeted this about Goldberg's retraction:
I have to give Goldberg credit. When he falls on the sword for his boss, he does it with gusto.
His retraction basically reads like this: "Hey Guys, Mark Goldberg here. Yesterday, I went and got on Kim's e-mail and sent out a bunch of stuff that was completely made up, I mean, all of it was totally fake. I said there was this event. I said Kim was going to be speaking. I said you had to go volunteer for it or you'd get bad evaluations. It was all bullshit. Just kidding. My bad. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Sincerely, Mark. P.S. Please believe me on this e-mail. I really really need you to believe me."
I mean, damn, if what Mark said he did is really what he did, Kim Ogg should totally fire him, right? I used to send practical joke e-mails from other people's computers back in the day, but I never had the guts to do that to the elected D.A! Damn, dude.
Back in the old days, I used to call Pat Lykos' upper administration the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight. Kim Ogg's group makes them look like Seal Team Six.
The irony is that if what Mark said in his "retraction" is true, he's actually doing something worse than misinforming the assistant district attorneys. He's acknowledging that he has the authorization to send campaign-style e-mails from Kim's e-mail account to all prosecutors. Kind of calls into question what exactly the taxpayers are paying him for, doesn't it?
It's just another day in the life at the Harris County District Attorney's Office under Boss Ogg.