Here Are the Dallas Council Candidates Who Got Campaign Money From Key Figures Tied to Corruption Scandals

Before federal authorities announced indictments that shook Dallas City Hall and took down the bus agency known as Dallas County Schools, the key figures tied to the schemes spent years trying to spread their political influence around the city.On Tuesday, Dallas County Schools board President Larry Duncan was sentenced to six months home confinement and three years probation for his role in the affair.Duncan's tax evasion charge was related to nearly $250,000 he received from Robert Leonard, CEO of the Louisiana camera company tied to Dallas County Schools, and Leonard's associates. Duncan then doled out tens of thousands of dollars in donations to local politicians' campaigns. Superintendent Rick Sorrells, who has also pleaded guilty to federal charges, chipped in as well. Duncan made the contributions in recent years as the agency needed and won City Council sign-off to issue tickets to drivers who were caught on camera zipping past school bus stop arms. To do so, the company sold the cameras and technology to Dallas County Schools. The deal was a financial bust for Dallas County Schools and led to the taxpayer-funded agency's downfall. The players involved also needed council approval on zoning cases tied to their real estate dealings.Former Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Leonard for helping guide his plans through City Hall and received a 56-month prison sentence, which begins next month. Caraway cooperated with federal investigators, which helped lead to prosecutors' indictment of developer Ruel Hamilton. They alleged that the politically connected Hamilton bribed Caraway in August to put a referendum on the council agenda. The prosecutors also said Hamilton previously bribed former council member Carolyn Davis to push forward his application for low-income tax credits. Davis pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and is awaiting sentencing. Hamilton, who has denied the charges against him, has long been a major contributor to local campaigns. He often bundles his own maximum-limit donations with those of family members, including his school-aged grandchildren — a strategy that can be used to increase political clout. In light of the federal cases, some of the candidates quickly vowed to return or give to community organizations the campaign donations from the Hamiltons and people involved with Dallas County Schools. Some say they did not even realize they had gotten the donations -- or who they were from since city rules don't require donors to disclose their employers. And some said nothing at all. Hamilton's high-profile attorney Abbe Lowell, who counts Jared Kushner among his clients, said the legal campaign contributions shouldn't be conflated with what he called "meritless, unproven criminal allegations." For this story, campaign contributions from Chris Hamilton — Ruel's son who is active in local politics — are excluded as Chris Hamilton has not been accused of any wrongdoing. But the story does include reporting on money that Ruel bundled with his son and other family members.With the May 4 elections three weeks away, here's a look at candidates on the ballot who received the donations.  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us