2011 a year of corruption for Dallas

Dallas City Hall

Dallas seems to be swarming with its share of investigations of late. The culture of corruption in the “Big D” has been well documented for years, but 2011 seems to be the golden year for all things shady and illegal. And now, while curious minds still ponder the fate of John Wiley Price, another scandal has popped up on the radar of Dallas-area politicos.

WFAA has reported that Willis Johnson, a man involved in everything from lobbying to telecommunications, has been doing some ethically dubious lobbying for four different companies: ACS, Alpha Business Images, H.J. Russell and Motorola. Not only is he fighting for their interest at Dallas City Hall, but he also has a financial stake in them.

Johnson was once a subcontractor with ACS earning $2.7 million. Alpha Business Images was owned by his wife when they wrote him a check for $23,000. Johnson serves as a subcontractor for H.J. Russell and makes $170,000, and as a subcontractor for Motorala pulling in an estimated $200,000. Geez.

Johnson has been heavily involved in Dallas city politics. He got former mayor Tom Leppert elected, and even worked for the current mayor Mike Rawlings. He is also a close associate of John Wiley Price; all of Johnson’s contracts have been landed through the city’s minority-participation rules. There is now speculation that he might be connected to some of Price’s shadier dealings, that is, should the FBI find any.

But this ethical shadiness is only the latest in a long history of Dallas-area political corruption, and 2010 – 2011 has gotten its full share of it.

In late 2010, two Dallas-County constables were brought up on charges of raising illegal campaign funds. One faced two counts of tampering with a government record for failing to report contributions on campaign disclosure forms. The other faced four charges of illegally accepting contributions over $100 and one count of participating in organized criminal activity.

Also in late 2010, 14 people — including ex-Dallas Plan Commissioner D’Angelo Lee, former Mayor Pro-Tem Don Hill and former State Representative Terri Hodge — were convicted or pleaded guilty in an affordable housing scandal in which bribes were funned to the former mayor pro-tem in order to get apartment construction permits. Hill was sentenced to 18 years, and his wife, who helped launder the hundreds of thousands of dollars, was sentenced to nine years.

In a spin off to that investigation, former City Councilman James Fantroy was indicted for embezzling more than $5,000 in federal grants given to Paul Quinn College – where he served as treasurer and member of the board.

Fast forward to January of this year, when then-mayor pro-tem John Carroway used city attorneys to block the release of a police tape from a domestic disturbance at his house involving his wife (who happens to be a state representative). He then told the city that the tape was of no importance, and involved a set of made up friends called “Arthur and Archie” arguing over a football game.

Later that same month, the police officer in Dallas in charge of (get this) Crime Stoppers, was arrested for taking several thousands of dollars from the organization that was supposed to go to people that had called in tips.

Then, this summer came the FBI raid on John Wiley Price’s house and office, and the home and office of his longtime assistant Daphne Fane and his political consultant Kathy Nealy. This news has been shaking up the political sphere for months, making his opponents giddy and his supporters angry enough to rally behind their “man downtown” and collect funds to support his mounting legal bill.

So, it comes as a relief that newly-annointed Mayor Mike Rawlings is now pushing ethics reform in City Hall. This won’t do anything about the county officials mentioned above, but at least it takes care of those lobbyists running rampant around Dallas. This ethics investigation wades close to home for Rawlings, who paid Nealy (mentioned above) $270,000 during his campaign to round up the black vote for him.

But hey, with corruption stats peaking in Dallas, just the word “ethics” is a bit refreshing.

Posted by on August 30, 2011. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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