After three weeks off work and mounting questions about Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk’s whereabouts, it remained unclear Monday whether the county’s top prosecutor had returned to the office.
The Dallas Morning News reported over the weekend that Hawk had been on a break from work since Aug. 3. Those close to her said she was taking “time off” and on a “summer break,” but would not say where she is.
A representative previously said Hawk plans to resume work this week.
On Monday morning and afternoon, a staffer at the front desk of the district attorney’s office said that Hawk was not available and that her secretary would be in touch to set up an interview. When asked Monday afternoon whether Hawk was at work, her secretary said only that she had not heard back about when to schedule the appointment.
Hawk’s car was reportedly not in its regular spot at the courthouse Monday.
Hawk and her top assistant did not return requests for comment. Hawk’s former campaign consultant, Mari Woodlief, said Hawk “doesn’t feel the need to do an interview on this, but she will send a statement later today.” The News had not received a statement by Monday evening.
But Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Carol Donovan released her own statement Monday, calling on Hawk to “do her job or resign.”
“If she is struggling with personal problems, we wish her the best, but Dallas County’s top law enforcement official should not be a distraction to courthouse employees, who need to focus on justice rather than their bosses’ erratic personal and professional conduct,” Donovan said.
Crystal Perkins, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, also released a statement urging Hawk to tell the taxpayers where she is and what she’s doing “on their dime.”
Wade Emmert, Dallas County Republican Party chairman, defended Hawk’s right to time off, saying that she has worked hard since taking office to clean up the “mess” that he said her predecessor, Democrat Craig Watkins, left.
“She deserves a vacation just like every other public official in America does,” he said, though he added that “in retrospect,” he wishes her office had been clearer about her schedule.
Former campaign adviser Woodlief, who is not on the district attorney’s office’s payroll, also acknowledged a missed opportunity, telling KTVT-TV (Channel 11) that the office should have done a better job communicating with the public.
Emmert accused The News of being unfair to Hawk by holding her to a different standard than Watkins. He also blasted Donovan as a hypocrite for condemning Hawk while Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, a Democrat, is under federal indictment.
“Before she starts calling for Republican resignations, she should clean her own house first,” he said.
Hawk’s mother, Joanne McWithey, told KXAS-TV (NBC5) that Hawk had been “working every weekend, working late every day. She just needed time off.”
Hawk took office in January when she became the county’s first female district attorney.
She makes about $210,000 per year, according to the Dallas County budget office.