The Port of Houston Authority hired high-profile defense attorney Rusty Hardin to work as a liaison with the district attorney and county attorney as they investigate allegations against the organization and its chairman, Jim Edmonds, and CEO Alec Dreyer.
The port authority's board introduced Hardin at its meeting Tuesday but took no further action regarding the allegations against its two executives, pending the investigation.
Earlier this month, the Harris County Attorney's Office announced it would conduct an investigation into the port's compliance with state laws on conflicts of interest, open meetings, open records, procurement procedures and financial reporting.
The investigation came after questions arose about Dreyer's use of the organization's tour vessel for a private function and possible conflicts of interest involving Edmonds' relationship with AECOM, a company that does business with the port.
Earlier this month, Port Commissioners Elyse Lanier and Janiece Longoria raised questions about Dreyer hosting a party for a friend on the port authority’s tour boat, the Sam Houston, and asked that a discussion about his continued employment with the port be placed on the agenda for the authority’s monthly meeting Tuesday.
Edmonds' contract with AECOM ended in March, he said last week.
Hardin is on retainer by the port authority and will earn $5,000 a month for up to six months of work. He is also currently defending former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens against charges of perjury in relation to allegations of performance-enhancing drug use.
The Port of Houston is the ninth-largest U.S. container port and handled more than 525,000 TEUs in 2010.