Smith County DA candidate addresses audit controversy in letter to supporters

Smith County DA candidate addresses audit controversy in letter to supporters
Jacob Putman (Source: KLTV News Staff)

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A candidate for Smith County District Attorney is addressing his supporters after an audit found that he, along with eight other prosecutors, violated internal policy numerous times.

Smith County District Attorney's Office policy states prosecutors must seek either the signature of the district attorney or the first assistant district attorney when dismissing a felony case. According to the audit, Putman filed 48 cases without seeking a co-signature, since 2013.

Assistant District Attorney Jacob Putman sent a letter to supporters this week to "set the record straight."

In the letter emailed to supporters Thursday night, Putman said, "Some of you may have read or seen various news reports or articles claiming some pretty outlandish things, all designed in a desperate attempt to attack my character and integrity, and to somehow paint me as unqualified."

Putman alleged the information was purposely released to coincide with him being in court.

"This information was purposely released to coincide with me being in trial this week, knowing I would be consumed with the trial and unable to fully respond until I have time to pour over the information and analyze the evidence, just like I do every day as a prosecutor for the citizens of Smith County. The establishment and their willing accomplices in the media then demanded an immediate response, even though I released a statement that I would respond once I had reviewed the material.  This tactic was designed to make me look weak and/or guilty," Putman wrote.

Putman and the district attorney's office have been under public scrutiny since a December 2017 shooting of Texas Department of Public Trooper Damon Allen. The man charged in that case, Dabrett Black, had previous cases in East Texas where he allegedly assaulted law enforcement officers.

In March of 2016, Black was charged in the beating of a Smith County deputy. Without a co-signature, the audit found that Putman signed off on a plea deal which dismissed one charge against Black and put him in jail for a year.

At a Jan. 25 "meet the candidate" event, Putman said he was still reviewing the audit, while his opponent said she was angry to see what it revealed.

"A lot of people asked about the audit that was released this week. I was in a jury trial doing my job that the Smith County voters pay me to do, so I haven't had a chance to go through the whole thing yet. Once we've reviewed it all, we will be releasing a statement to clarify some of the falsehoods and partial truths that have been put out there. ... Once we have analyzed all available information,  my campaign will provide a strong and fact-based defense to the blatantly false attacks that have been pervasive the last few weeks," Putman said.

KLTV has reached out to Putman's office for additional comment.

Putman echoed the comments made during the event in his letter.

"My team and I are in the process of looking through all of the documents, and will be making definitive statements very soon. I want to be clear when I tell you that we will stand and fight back against the lies, disinformation and slander against me and my record by the longtime political establishment here in Smith County," he wrote.

READ THE FULL LETTER BELOW:

Tyler – Jacob Putman, the conservative outsider candidate for Smith County Criminal District Attorney, today released the following statement to his supporters and the citizens of Smith County: 

"First off, my wife Rachael and I want to sincerely thank every person who is praying for 
us, and supporting my run for Smith County District Attorney. Campaigns are tough, and this one has gotten very heated lately, but we are comforted by all of you who pray for us, who have reached out to us with a kind word, and who are so positive and encouraging.  We remain strong and steadfast, knowing that we are being faithful to GOD's calling, and in the end, it is HIS will that will be done.  

Some of you may have read or seen various news reports or articles claiming some pretty outlandish things, all designed in a desperate attempt to attack my character and 
integrity, and to somehow paint me as unqualified. This is the exact kind of campaign that was run by the very same political establishment against our great sheriff Mr. Larry Smith. 

This information was purposely released to coincide with me being in trial this week, knowing I would be consumed with the trial and unable to fully respond until I have time to pour over the information and analyze the evidence, just like I do every day as a prosecutor for the citizens of Smith County. The establishment and their willing accomplices in the media then demanded an immediate response, even though I released a statement that I would respond once I had reviewed the material. This tactic was designed to make me look weak and/or guilty. 

My team and I are in the process of looking through all of the 
documents and will be making definitive statements very soon. I want to be clear when I tell you that we will stand and fight back against the lies, disinformation and slander against me and my record by the longtime political establishment here in Smith County.

My opponent, who was recruited at the last minute by this same establishment group, has been attacking me and my character non-stop.  So much for running a civil campaign. It clearly strikes fear into the current DA and his cronies, who know full well that I will fight corruption and wrongdoing no matter where I find it, including within the DA's office.

This is why they will do everything possible to keep me from winning this race, for they know I will clean up the mess they created, and end once and for all the system of selective prosecution they and their friends benefit from. 

Once we have analyzed all available information, my campaign will provide a strong and fast based defense to the blatantly false attacks that have been pervasive the last few weeks.   

As a prosecutor and a candidate, I have always stood for the principle that no one is above the law. I am committed to transparency and accountability. I am committed to running an office that is above reproach. I am committed to instituting real policies that are clear, concise and consistent. I pledge to the citizens of Smith County that I will continue to fight corruption no matter where I find it, and that no person is above the law, regardless of gender, race, wealth or social status, including elected officials. 


Sincerely,
Jacob Putman

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained an editing error that has now been amended.

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