Lehmberg to make donation with salary money

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by KVUE.com

kvue.com

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 24 at 6:14 PM

AUSTIN -- Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg addressed the media Wednesday afternoon for the first time since her release from jail.

"I'm at work, and I'm fine," Lehmberg began. "And I want people to know I'm still fully committed to carrying out the duties that I was elected to do."

Click here to see Lehmberg's statement in its entirety.

Lehmberg went on to apologize once again for her "huge mistake" of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police arrested Lehmberg on April 12 for driving while intoxicated after a witness spotted her driving erratically on FM 620 near RM 2222.

After pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated and an open container violation, Lehmberg was sentenced to jail for 45 days on April 19, and her license was suspended for 180 days. She was released in half of the time for good behavior.

Lehmberg spoke Wednesday after an Austin lawyer brought up the issue of her salary. She addressed some citizens' concern that she was paid a salary while serving her jail sentence.

"I understand that concern, the taxpayer concerns," Lehmberg said.

The district attorney says she has decided to make a donation equivalent to her salary for the 22 days she was in jail to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). That donation will be approximately $10,000.

"I asked the comptroller and state auditor's office if that money could actually be sent back to the taxpayers, the state taxpayers, and there really isn't a mechanism for that, but I have determined that this is a way I can make sure the taxpayer money that I was paid while I was in jail for my DWI goes back to a good source," Lehmberg said.

MADD released the following statement Wednesday:

MADD is concerned any time we hear about someone who made the choice to drive drunk. Sadly, Texas leads the nation in drunk driving deaths with 1,213 people killed in a drunk driving crash and another 16,001 who were injured in 2011. MADD calls on state lawmakers to take meaningful action to protect Texans by legalizing sobriety checkpoints and requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. MADD also urges Texans to get involved locally to make a difference at the state level. MADD volunteers and supporters are individuals, families, companies and groups that want to make our roads safer. All donations or court-ordered fines received by MADD are put towards our efforts to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime, and prevent underage drinking. MADD is committed to eliminating drunk driving, a 100 percent preventable crime that kills nearly 10,000 people and injures another 315,000 people nationwide each year.

Austin attorney Kerry O'Brien sent a request to the DA's office earlier this month asking if Lehmberg collected her salary. He says Wednesday's announcement was simply public relations damage control.

"It looks horrible. She has no choice. It's just PR damage control on her part," O'Brien said.

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