E mail exhibits Ellis anxious over African art’s ownership months in advance of KPRC 2 Investigates report

HOUSTON – The e mail KPRC 2 Investigates showcased in Monday night’s report was discovered immediately after reviewing thousands of e-mails by a Texas Public Details Act ask for. In a part close to the close of the electronic mail, Ellis wrote, “update agreements with Sam in situation he does not own all the artwork. This keeps me up at evening. He have to have(s) to indication some thing and notarize it. We need to have additional than just his phrase.”

Email from commissioner Rodney Ellis exhibits concern above African Art’s possession (KPRC)

The e-mail raises eyebrows for numerous good reasons. To start with, is the time the e mail was written, which was “4:32 a.m.” The other is the day, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, just about 5 months prior to our report. Nonetheless, what caught county officials off-guard when KPRC 2 Investigates in the beginning built the request, is the name of the sender, “Glenn Rodney,” an email alias of Commissioner Ellis that is a mix of his to start with and center names in reverse purchase.

Similar: ‘Priceless’ African art devoid of paperwork saved in Harris County-owned routine maintenance get rid of


Officials inside the county experienced no strategy of that name becoming linked to an e-mail deal with until we educated them of our discovery.

Eventually, just after numerous requests for the total production of the e-mail for “Glenn Rodney,” KPRC 2 sooner or later was offered with all emails that had been despatched by this alias tackle.

We not too long ago requested Commissioner Ellis why the art selection and its unclear ownership saved him up at evening? “I do not know. I guess I was up,” reported Ellis.

KPRC 2 analyst Ed Emmett experienced a unique consider.

“He’s telling his staff members we have received to include ourselves here,” reported Emmett.

Emmett was county decide when Ellis commenced investing hundreds of hundreds of dollars on the shed, with out approval from Commissioners Courtroom.

“You cannot invest public dollars for a private intent. It is not authorized, you simply cannot do it. And this is this kind of a apparent-slice situation of investing public dollars for a private objective,” Emmett explained.


The “Sam” in the e mail is Sam Najunuri, the alleged owner of the non-public collection. Najunuri also runs African Artwork Glolbal. A corporation with ties to Ellis’ relatives. Ellis realized there had been complications and attempted to clean them up as early as September 2019.

In January 2018, county commissioners did approve 14 items from “African Artwork Global” to be shown in county buildings. Even so, we located more than 1000 pieces saved in a high priced refurbished drop.

Linked: Harris County Commissioner responds to discovery of massive African art assortment saved in lose

“It’s plainly an abuse of office, in my view,” said point out Senator Paul Bettencourt.

Bettencourt filed a bill in Austin to give the attorney general energy to prosecute in instances where by non-public artwork is being saved at federal government expense, with out public reward.


On March 15, the Senate Committee on Nearby Governing administration fulfilled in Austin to contemplate the monthly bill. Our investigation was revealed to lawmakers at the hearing. The two sides of the aisle expressed concern.

“I come across this as repugnant as you do,” claimed State Senator Sarah Eckhardt, even though Point out Senator Robert Nichols claimed, “It’s obvious in this scenario, probably somebody must do something.”

The feds and the Harris County DA’s workplace introduced investigations. Ellis is fighting to make it go absent. Marketing campaign finance experiences clearly show he has used perfectly over 6 figures in lawyer service fees to check out to protect his lawful service fees in an attempt to straighten it all out. When asked if he’s concerned about the prison investigation, Ellis responded with a few words and phrases: “Not at all.”

Commissioner Ellis establishes how significantly income the Harris County District Attorney’s Business office – the similar office environment investigating him – receives annually. Rusty Hardin confirms not only is he operating with Ellis, but neither he nor his shopper has made contact with the DA’s workplace. Hardin suggests Ellis is willing to “fully cooperate” on the personal selection that, around a year later on, still has unclear possession and no agreement to be stored at the public’s price in the county maintenance lose.

Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click on2Houston – All legal rights reserved.

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