A Collin County Commissioners Court meeting this week devolved right into a shouting match between two elected officers involving accusations of data theft and lies.
The 30-minute back-and-forth started when District Clerk Lynne Finley requested the Commissioners Court to supply her a price range to function an impartial email server.
The server was essential, she mentioned, as a result of there had been a breach of the processes that contain the discharge of public data.
Finley defined she recurrently communicates with judges on delicate issues, together with points involving juvenile courtroom, and wishes 10 days to assessment correspondence to find out whether or not materials needs to be exempted from public disclosure beneath the Texas Public Information Act.
“While data are public data, there are lots of authorized explanation why sure paperwork can’t be launched,” she mentioned. “And we’re sitting in a spot proper now the place I’m telling you, we’ve had a breach, and we have to repair it.”
When County Judge Chris Hill requested for extra data, Finley defined that an elected official had circumvented the disclosure course of and obtained lots of of her emails by way of the county’s data know-how division.
“Oh,” Hill mentioned. “You imply me.”
“Yes, I do,” Finley responded. “You stole them.”
That accusation delivered to the forefront disagreements between Finley and Hill which were effervescent for greater than 18 months, beginning with a dispute over how Collin County dealt with Justice of the Peace and courtroom features.
Finley mentioned Wednesday that she had no intention of publicly accusing Hill by identify of stealing her emails.
“I’m a Republican, he’s a Republican,” she mentioned. “I don’t need to exit and assault different elected officers. That was not my intent.”
Finley mentioned Hill submitted a request beneath the Public Information Act for emails that Finley despatched containing a number of key phrases, together with “magistration.” But earlier than there was a chance to look at Finley’s emails for exemptions, Hill had a employees member go to the county’s IT division and take a thumb drive together with her emails, she mentioned.
Hill repeatedly denied stealing emails. Although he instructed Finley during the meeting that he “can’t look forward to the articles” about their argument, he didn’t reply to a number of makes an attempt to contact him for remark.
“You can get up right here and say they had been stolen, however it’s a lie,” Hill mentioned. “It may’ve simply been that you simply had been confused, however now that you’ve been corrected, when you say it once more, you’re deceitful. … Thus far, maybe you simply didn’t know, and so we’ll go forward and grant you this one a mulligan.”
Hill mentioned he requested the data in his official capability as a county choose. Therefore, he mentioned, he was not topic to the identical disclosure guidelines that almost all members of the general public are.
The pair then shifted to an argument about Finley’s choice to not come into the county places of work during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic final yr.
Hill instructed Finley that he requested and obtained a report detailing the place and when Finley used her entry card to enter county buildings.
“That report demonstrated that during COVID-19, whereas your workplace was open to the general public and dealing, you weren’t on campus for six whole months,” Hill mentioned. “Not one time during that six months. … That annoyed me to no finish.”
“It was COVID,” Finley mentioned. “…There was a pandemic!”
She defined that she and different members of the family had been at excessive danger of issues in the event that they contracted COVID-19.
“I took care of myself, I took care of my children, and I took care of my job, and that’s all I can do,” Finley instructed Hill. “… You wished me to come back to this courtroom in October, earlier than we even had a vaccine. You virtually demanded I seem in particular person till you realized that I even have a letter from my physician who says you shouldn’t be in public. You wished to drive me to be right here.”
Finley mentioned Wednesday that she “received’t be bullied for doing my job.” She mentioned that she has spoken with attorneys specializing in legal regulation about her accusations towards Hill however that she had not approached regulation enforcement.
Ultimately, she mentioned, “I want to do my job with out Judge Hill’s interference.”