Mayor Tom's All For A Tough Code of Ethics. For Everyone Else.
Back during the Trinity River toll road debate, Dallas City Attorney Tom Perkins just stopped responding to my calls when I asked certain kinds of questions, especially about possible violations of the city’s ethics code. It’s sort of frustrating for a reporter to get stone-cold silence in response to an inquiry. I guess he probably knows that. But I still have to ask this stuff. So I guess what I need to do now is ask my questions in a more public way, to see if that will pry loose an answer.
Today I asked him if Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors chair Lynn Flint Shaw violates the ethics code by serving as treasurer of the Friends of Tom Leppert, a political fundraising committee -- as evidenced by campaign finance documents filed with the City Secretary's Office as recently as today, matter of fact. This comes up as part of a larger look I am taking at Shaw and the mayor’s Southern Dallas political team.
So take a look at my letter to Perkins. It seems pretty clear to me, but then, I’m not a city attorney. Maybe Mr. Perkins will grace me with an answer. But could I make a prediction? Not so much.
What happens here, when they something like this from the Dallas Observer, is that they go into damage-control mode. I predict before I ever hear back from Perkins, you will see a story in The Dallas Morning News, official organ of the Dallas Citizens Council, to the effect of: “Mayor discovers DART chairman violates ethics code, throws DART chairman under bus.”
‘Nother prediction? Gonna be a whole lot of ass-covering and bus-throwing out of the mayor’s office in the weeks ahead. All those people who thought they were Leppert’s gate-keepers in the south are going to be walking around with Michelin marks on their butts. I think Mayor Tom will be “very comfortable” with that. --Jim Schutze
City of Dallas
Dallas, Texas 75201
Dear Mr. Perkins:
Lynn Flint Shaw serves as treasurer of Friends of Tom Leppert, a political fund-raising committee. She is chairman of the DART Board. The City of Dallas Code of Ethics provides:
SEC. 12A-10. POLITICAL ACTIVITY.
(a) City officials. In any election, except his or her own, a city official shall not:
(1) use the prestige of the city official’s position with the city on behalf of a candidate, political party, or political committee, except that:
(A) a city official is not prohibited from lending his or her name so long as the office held with the city is not mentioned in connection with the endorsement; and;
(B) a city council member is not prohibited from lending his or her name and official city title in connection with any election for public office or in connection with any election ordered by the city of Dallas on a proposition or measure;
(2) serve as the designated campaign treasurer for a candidate under the Texas Election Code; or
(3) solicit or receive contributions for a candidate, political party, or political committee, except that a city official is not prohibited from serving on a steering committee to plan a program of solicitation and listing the member’s name without reference to the office held when the committee as a whole is listed.
(24) OFFICIAL or CITY OFFICIAL includes the following persons:
(I) City council appointed members of boards of entities that were not created by the city council.
Is Ms. Flint Shaw in violation of the city code? Is Tom Leppert in violation of the code?