Fixer Or Friend? Fallen Political Consultant Kathy Nealy Looms Large at John Wiley Price Trial

She stood at the back of the rally, arms folded, a designer purse hanging from her elbow. With a hat that matched her Sunday-go-to-meeting outfit, she looked up at the bus carrying Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Leticia Van de Putte as it pulled up near Fair Park.Someone whispered: "That's Kathy Nealy."There was a time when Nealy, the once-powerful political and business consultant, would have been the first stop in Dallas for Democrats seeking support. She boasted clients like Bill and Hillary Clinton, South African leader Nelson Mandela, former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.Nealy delivered southern Dallas votes for every major bond campaign or public referendum in the last quarter-century, including for the American Airlines Center and Trinity River projects.Tough, brash and confident, she was the unquestioned enforcer in southern Dallas politics.John Wiley Price was the boss. But on this day in 2014, she went almost unnoticed, her career in tatters after an indictment accusing her of paying bribes to Price, the Dallas County commissioner, her close friend and political benefactor."You all have destroyed me," Nealy said, shaking her head when a reporter asked a question.Now Nealy is at the center of the federal case against Price, a trial in its seventh week. A day doesn't pass without a mention of Nealy, who's accused of paying nearly $1 million in bribes to Price. Prosecutors say some of Dallas' most prominent companies hired Nealy because of her close association with Price. She in turn kicked money to the commissioner, who steered contracts to those businesses.Nealy's legal troubles have marked the end of a remarkable political and business career that saw her rise from a struggling young widow to a consultant with local and international clients. Though Nealy haunts the Price case, she's not physically in the courtroom. Questions about whether she has immunity from prosecution under a 10-year-old deal with federal authorities has resulted in Nealy being tried separately from Price and his top assistant Dapheny Fain.Nealy and Price have denied wrongdoing.  Continue reading...

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