HOUSTON -- Now the case of Ryan Chandler, the fired Houston homicide investigator who the police chief bluntly called a liar, has become a campaign issue.
Kim Ogg, a former prosecutor running as the Democratic candidate for Harris County district attorney, has criticized incumbent Republican Devon Anderson's handling of the Chandler case.
"I'm saying that Ryan Chandler, like any other citizen of Harris County accused of committing a crime, should have been investigated the way we would have been," Ogg said. "He wasn't. We don't know why."
Chandler was fired after an internal HPD probe revealed he failed to adequately investigate more than a dozen homicides, revelations that shocked attorneys and victim rights advocates. But he has never faced any criminal charges and he's now fighting in a civil service process to reclaim his job.
Ogg's campaign criticized how Anderson handled a conflict of interest in the case: Chandler was dating and later married an assistant district attorney working for Anderson.
Anderson decided to refer the case to what amounted to a special prosecutor, who turned out to be a man with close connections to law enforcement: Brett Ligon, the Montgomery Co. district attorney, who also once served as an attorney for the Houston Police Officers Union.
"Why wasn't a defense attorney appointed?" Ogg asked. "A former prosecutor? An independent person? Why did it go to the DA next door? And why does it go to a DA who used to represent the police union – the same union that's currently defending Sgt. Chandler in his attempt to get his job back?"
Ogg released more than a hundred pages of documents and emails obtained by Wayne Dolcefino, the former investigative reporter she hired as an opposition researcher. Among the documents was an email Ogg said proved Chandler's wife accessed confidential records about the cases he handled.
Ogg hopes to become the first Democrat in a generation to win election as district attorney in Harris County, where Republicans once easily controlled every countywide office. Her party has made significant inroads in the last couple of election cycles, winning races for sheriff and county attorney as well as electing several Democratic judges.
Although Anderson – a longtime prosecutor and criminal court judge -- is the incumbent, she running in her first election for district attorney. She was appointed to replace her husband, Mike, who died of cancer last year.
Anderson's political consultant released a sharply worded statement attributed to her calling Ogg's remarks "ridiculously inaccurate and ill-informed."
"Our office has handled this matter by-the-book," the statement said. "Everything has been done aboveboard and in as transparent a fashion as the law allows. If Ms. Ogg aspires to gain the public trust or ever hold elective office, she should work a little harder and study the facts a little longer before she attempts to sensationalize an important and delicate legal matter."