Dallas County Commissioner Mike Cantrell to Seek Investigation of Craig Watkins' Accident
Friday, we told you about County Commissioner Mike Cantrell's resolution calling for the suspension of John Wiley Price from the commissioner's court for the duration of his bribery trial.
Price is not the only Democratic Party big fish Cantrell is going to try to reel in at the Tuesday's meeting. The court's only Republican commissioner also plans to call for an attorney to be retained to investigate and file a formal complaint with the State Bar of Texas regarding District Attorney Craig Watkins' February 2013 car wreck and the resulting settlement. Additionally, Cantrell wants the court to order an audit of the District Attorney's Office's use of forfeiture funds by the state auditor.
Watkins' office insists that using the forfeiture money for the settlement was simply a means of keeping taxpayer money from paying for what was a personal mistake by Watkins. Others, like Cantrell, say it was an attempt to cover up what happened.
"The DA was the cause of the accident and when the county was sued the DA's office acted as the agent for Dallas County and accepted service on it," Cantrell said, "then, acted as the attorney for Dallas County and then acted as authority to settle the matter on our behalf all without Dallas County knowing anything about it."
Cantrell disputes what Watkins' office claim that the car Watkins was driving, a 2013 Ford Edge, was not a county vehicle despite being purchased with government money. The car was made part of the county fleet in 2012 because Watkins' office said it was needed for investigations. To date the commissioner's have seen no documentation for how nearly $50,0000 settlement was determined, he said.
"I'm the client, and I have yet to see the medical bills. They can talk about [the bills' existence] all day long, but I haven't seen them," he said. "I'm doing this because it's a serious breach of the public trust. The only people who can represent the county are the five commissioners that sit on that court. The DA does not have the authority to do everything he wants to do just because he's the district attorney."