Houston’s inspector general resigns

Houston Chronicle on January 16, 2012 released the following:


The city of Houston’s top internal affairs investigator is resigning after 14 months on the job.

Inspector General Robert Doguim’s resignation is effective Feb. 3.

Doguim said Monday that the Office of Inspector General should be an independent city department, but he was not leaving in protest. Mayor Annise Parker’s administration was supportive of his work, even when that meant primarily staying out of his way, he said.

“The OIG, particularly for a city this large, should be a stand-alone department. It should not be assigned under the Legal Department,” Doguim said. He reports to City Attorney David Feldman.

When asked if Feldman ever interfered with his work, Doguim said, “Mr. Feldman, never, never tried to influence the actions or the decisions of the OIG.”

Other big-city OIGs have subpoena power and the ability to conduct criminal investigations, and Doguim said he believes Houston’s should, too. Just weeks after he was hired, he persuaded Sen. John Whitmire to carry legislation to do so. The bill did not pass.

Instead, the Office of Inspector General’s duties are limited to investigations of allegations of violations of city procedures and rules. If OIG investigators find evidence of criminal violations, they can refer matters to law enforcement agencies.

Doguim said he is leaving, in part, on the principle that an inspector general should be a limited-term appointment. He said he also has a family matter to attend to.

The former FBI agent became Houston’s inspector general in late 2010, shortly after Parker moved the office that investigates employee misconduct out of the Houston Police Department and under the control of the mayor’s office.

Last June, Doguim’s office issued findings that then-Councilwoman Jolanda Jones had used city resources to support her private law practice. He referred the matter to the district attorney’s office, which found insufficient evidence to prosecute Jones.

A special three-member ethics panel headed by the mayor declined to send the findings to the full council for possible sanctions that could have included removal from office.

A footnote in the panel’s report referred to a “lack of thoroughness” in the OIG investigation and that the panel found several instances where proper substantiation of findings was not obtained in a timely manner.

The Office of Inspector General also cleared Jones in a previous probe and exonerated council members Stephen Costello and Al Hoang of ethics charges during Doguim’s tenure.

Doguim had been director of homeland security and emergency management at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office before coming to the city.

Doguim worked for 20 years for the FBI. As a federal agent working undercover, Doguim and an FBI informant gave then-Councilman Ben Reyes $50,000 in cash in exchange for his assistance securing a city contract. As a result, in 1998 Reyes was convicted of bribery and mail fraud. He served a nine-year prison sentence. Port Commissioner Betti Maldonado also was convicted of bribery and sentenced to 51 months in prison as a result of the investigation.”


Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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