When city and county contractors and their lobbyists don't follow
the rules, it's difficult to catch them, because few cities have an
oversight office that investigates on its own initiative. Without
such a program, communities depend on federal and state criminal enforcers who focus on bribery and kickbacks.
It is the FBI and a federal grand jury that did the job in Dallas County which, unlike the city of
Dallas, has no ethics program, just an aspirational code. In fact,
it has two aspirational codes, only one of which is linked to on the county
website; the one linked to is the National Association of Counties
Code of Ethics (attached; see below); there is also a short ethics
code in the
county Code of Ordinances
(Sec. 94-51). But there is no local ethics program.
According to a
press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of
, a federal grand jury has returned a
charging a long-time Dallas County
commissioner (Price), his chief of staff, a corporate lobbyist,
(Nealy) and a corporate consultant (Campbell) with a conspiracy that
involved nearly $1 million going to the commissioner (in the form of
money, land, and cars (one of the four cars, a New 2005 BMW 645Ci,
cost $100,000)), while the commissioner supported the bids of the
lobbyist's clients and provided them with confidential information that gave
them a "strategic advantage" over other bidders.