State Lawmaker Running For Dallas Mayor To File Anti-Public Corruption Legislation

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Story by Jack Fink, Reporter
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DALLAS — Democratic State Representative and Dallas Mayoral candidate Eric Johnson announced Monday he will file an anti-public corruption bill this week after a former Dallas City Council Member Carolyn Davis pleaded guilty to accepting bribes.

During a news conference at the State Capitol Monday afternoon, Rep. Johnson said, “My running for Mayor has nothing to do with this.”

Johnson said his legislation is about protecting all of Texas.

On Friday, Davis said in federal court she received $40,000 in bribes in exchange for promoting an affordable housing project by Ruel Hamilton.

Hamilton was charged with two counts of bribery, but he has denied any wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty in court.

Under the bill, Johnson said he would remove all elected officials whether city, county and state, from being involved in scoring affordable housing tax credits proposed by developers.

“The affordable housing tax credit has become the mother’s milk of political corruption in Dallas. It needs to be reformed swiftly and comprehensively. It’s been a few cases in Dallas sadly that have led to the conclusion that this program is being abused.”

Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs, who’s also a Mayoral candidate said on his Facebook page, “Elected officials and staff at City Hall work hard everyday to earn the public’s trust. Carolyn betrayed us. Pay for play is not acceptable.”

Other candidates are also weighing in.

Developer Mike Ablon released a statement saying, “It’s time for tough and transparent ethics reforms at City Hall to crack down on elected officials who wish to use their positio for personal and financial gain.”

Dallas ISD Trustee Miguel Solis said in a statement, “We must raise the ethical standards at city hall and ensure it serves the people of Dallas with utmost integrity.”

Regina Montoya, who has served on the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty issued this statement, “We need any and all reforms necessary to ensure transparency and compliance with rules and laws.”

Another candidate, Alyson Kennedy who ran for President for the Socialist Workers of America party said in a statement, “It is another reason why we must be independent of the bosses and their political parties and fight for political power.”

In an interview Monday, Businessman Albert Black said, “I’m hoping the next Mayor of Dallas can prevent these kinds of circumstances by creating the kind of standards that our citizens are asking for and deliver on good governance.”

Philanthropist Lynn McBee said, “I think we have to establish a culture of honesty. We’ve got an ethics problem and we’ve got to take care of it. Austin can’t take care of it for us. We’ve got to take care of it.”

Former Republican State Representative of Dallas Jason Villalba said, “This is something that has infiltrated our City Hall. There’s a culture of corruption that exists on our city hall that absolutely must be eliminated.”

In addition to former Council Member Davis, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway resigned last year after he pleaded guilty to public corruption charges.

He admitted to accepting $450,000 in bribes in connection with a contract to place cameras on school buses owned by the now defunct Dallas County Schools agency.

The case involving Davis comes more than a decade after another city hall scandal first came to light involving affordable housing tax credits.

Then Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill, Developer Brian Potashnik, former State Representative Terri Hodge – predecessor to Eric Johnson – and other officials served time in prison.

Once filed, Johnson’s bill must work its way through the House Urban Affairs Committee before reaching the full House, and ultimately the full Senate.

Republican State Representative Angie Chen Button of Richardson, who chairs the committee, appeared at Johnson’s news conference.