Show Us the Money!

Categories: Politics

So, if you don't endorse Ed Oakley, you're taking money from Tom Leppert. At least, that's the impression you get from reading the daily and its Bold Types blog today. Says it right here:

Mr. Oakley also said members of Mr. Hill's former mayoral campaign approached him last month and explained that they wanted three installments of $250,000 each to join Mr. Oakley's campaign and help him coordinate his southern-sector get-out-the-vote effort.
And right here:
Oakley campaign aide has said Ricardo Medrano lied to the campaign and was lured away by Leppert’s considerable campaign warchest.
And right here:
[Don] Hill endorsed Mr. Leppert yesterday, which brought charges by Ed Oakley that Mr. Hill wanted various payments of $250,000.
Both Hill and Medrano, who had skipped an Oakley news conference in Little Mexico, deny the allegations from the Oakley camp, of course. Medrano -- Pauline's brother -- went so far as to issue a statement in which he writes that he's not endorsing either candidate and "would like for the Ed Oakley campaign to remove my name from their endorsement list."

Hill's campaign folks also just got off the phone with Unfair Park, denying that money was ever asked for or offered. So, like, WTF?

Unfair Park just spoke with campaign consultant Carol Reed, who's managing Leppert's run for mayor, and she says this whole thing started with a May 19 column by Rufus Shaw on Dallas Blog, in which Shaw wrote:

Don Hill’s endorsement is considered to be one of the most important endorsements in this run off election. However, a source with knowledge of this event told me that Mr. Hill and a group of his operatives literally ambushed Mr. Leppert in a scheduled meeting where Mr. Hill’s operatives demanded $200,000 for three weeks work to turn out the Black vote for Tom Leppert. A day later the price escalated to $750,000.

Two weeks later, that same number shows up in The Dallas Morning News, this time attributed to Ed Oakley, who said the same thing happened to him.

Reed says no one in the Leppert camp ever spoke to Hill, who yesterday endorsed Leppert to the chagrin of his old pal Oakley, or Hill's "operatives" about giving him $750,000 or 75 cents. She says Shaw's column was "the first I ever heard about this," and she says she told campaign staffers not to even touch the story as, she insists, it just wasn't true. "That's radioactive," Reed says she told Leppert campaign workers.

"No one ever talked to me or to Tom or anyone I know about any money," Reed tells Unfair Park. "Not only are we not paying them, but we haven't even talked about it."

She says this is all coming from Oakley's campaign: "It is a classic case of a campaign imploding," she says, "this throwing mud around."

Unfair Park tried to reach the Oakley campaign, but the candidate and his new campaign manager, Greg Kilhoffer, are "in a meeting finishing their financial report for The Dallas Morning News, which is due by today," said someone at Oakley HQ. They can't be reached till tomorrow.

Ken Carter -- who, along with Saundra Lohr, was one of Hill's two closest advisors during the campaign -- said they never approached either campaign for money. Ever. Giving Unfair Park an exclusive glimpse of the runoff election, Carter says Hill met with Oakley and Leppert at least twice before giving his endorsement. He says that at no point did Hill ever discuss money with either candidate and that he chose to endorse Leppert solely because he felt like he was more committed to Southern sector issues.

In fact, other than city council member Angela Hunt's call for a referendum on the Trinity toll road -- Hill's for it, Leppert's not -- the two hardly disagreed at all.

"Don did not cut any deal with Tom. Zero," Carter tells Unfair Park. "This was Don looking at it from where he stood and what is best for the city. There are some assumptions people have made, but they don't know where Don's heart is."

So where exactly did this, um, confusion come from? Carter says that at one meeting with Oakley's representatives, Carter discussed how much an effective get-out-the-vote effort would cost, but neither he nor Lohr were angling to be a part of that drive. "We never, ever asked or even talked about money with Ed and his representatives or Tom and his representatives," Carter says. "There was never any money discussed."

Just to cover all our bases here, Carter says that neither he nor Lohr ever asked either side to be hired as a campaign consultant. So to make it abundantly clear: Hill didn't ask anyone for money; Hill's people didn't ask anybody for money; and Hill's people didn't ask anyone for jobs. If Oakley's campaign is implying otherwise, it may simply be that they counted on Hill's support.

"Ed was lobbying for Don's endorsement up until the end," Carter says. "Ed did not anticipate Don would do this." --Matt Pulle and Robert Wilonsky

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