After one of Rosemary Lehmberg’s chief critics raised questions about her pay while in jail for three weeks for driving while intoxicated, the Travis County district attorney said Wednesday she plans to donate the equivalent ofwhat she earned while incarcerated to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Lehmberg also said that she made a “huge mistake” in April, when she was charged with DWI. After pleading guilty, she was sentenced to 45 days in jail but was released in about half that time for good behavior.
“Some time ago,” Lehmberg said, she asked the comptroller and the state auditor’s office if she could return the money she was paid while in jail — a sum she said she hasn’t calculated — but that “there really isn’t a mechanism for that.”
“This is a way that I can make sure that the taxpayer money that I was paid while I was in jail for my DWI goes back to a good source,” she said. “This, to me, seems like a good way to pay back the community.”
The announcement came hours after attorney Kerry O’Brien posted online the letters he received in response to information requests about her salary. In the letters, an assistant district attorney said that Lehmberg was paid while in jail and that her gross monthly salary rate as of April was about $13,358.
O’Brien, who initiated one of several legal efforts to force Lehmberg from office, said he thinks her donation is a public relations response to him publicizing information about her salary while in jail.
“It’s deplorable,” he said. “It’s just a basic issue of integrity.”
Though Lehmberg has repeatedly said she will not resign, a lawsuit seeking to remove her from office for being intoxicated is set for trial in October. She also faces allegations that she is guilty of obstruction, a third-degree felony, as a result of her behavior after her arrest.
“I want the people of Travis County to know that I am at work and that I am fine,” she said. “I want people to know that I am still fully committed to carrying out the duties that I was elected to do.”