Ex-lawyer for Ross Perot Jr. Company Calls It ‘shocking' to Learn of Money From Lobbyist to John Wiley Price

Hillwood's former top lawyer said Tuesday he never would have hired Kathy Nealy to lobby John Wiley Price for help with a foreign trade matter in southern Dallas County had he known about money she was paying to the commissioner at the time.David Newsom, who was general counsel for the development company, said that even without knowing what the payments were for, he would have ended the contract with Nealy, who was an influential South Dallas lobbyist. It was Newsom's second day on the witness stand in Price's federal bribery trial.Federal prosecutors said the check payments were bribes and that Nealy and Price engaged in influence peddling to enrich themselves. But the defense says the payments were expense reimbursements and loans. Some of the check memo lines indicated the money was for furniture. Price has known Nealy for decades and helped her financially, the defense team said.Regarding the Hillwood matter, Price attorney Shirley Baccus-Lobel said the commissioner was helping a constituent with property in his district that could benefit the local economy, like any other politician would.She has suggested that a select group of developers with property in southern Dallas County wanted to exclude Hillwood from the foreign trade zone, which provided tax benefits. But prosecutors said ample notice was given about the proposed trade zone expansion, and Newsome testified that he didn't think his company was purposely excluded.Baccus-Lobel said Newsom was quick to pass judgment Tuesday on Nealy without knowing anything about her long friendship with the commissioner. She noted Newsom's previous testimony that he had worked with Nealy for years and trusted her skill and professionalism."You seem to be wanting to disown her now," Baccus-Lobel said.Nealy will be tried separately on bribery charges. Getting an audienceThe morning began with Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Bunch asking Newsom about how Hillwood sought to be included at the last minute in the expansion of a foreign trade zone at the "inland port" in southern Dallas County. The trade zone is a federal designation that allows goods in transit to be stored tax-free at the port.Hillwood hired Nealy, who had helped the company years earlier with its Dallas development projects, to get an audience before Price. Company representatives met with the commissioner the day before a scheduled vote by county commissioners on the trade zone expansion, Newsom said.  Continue reading...

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