Follow The Money?
It's getting hot in here. In our four-way contest for the Democratic nomination for Dallas County Tax Assessor Collector, our 2004 nominee, Diana Lackey, has just issued a press release about the campaign finances of probably her leading opponent. Some of our local governments are notorious for "contracting out" tax collection by getting some favored law firm to send out past due letters -- and collect a hefty fee for this almost costless intimidation. It's a favors to the good old boys system. If this is also how the county has been acting, it would not be surprising that such contractors would be interested in who wins this race. Of course, they could be acting solely out of good citizenship, after long and objective analysis of which candidate would most unselfishly serve the general public good. How wonderful if that is true. Ms. Lackey's release:
As of the most recent filing of the candidates' campaign finance reports, one opponent, Mr. Ames, has accepted funds from a special interest, third party. Well over half of the campaign contributions accepted by him come from one vendor, and its staff, who contracts with the County to collect the delinquent taxes.
Who contributes to a campaign is of public interest. In an online questionnaire, the Dallas Morning News asked candidates to list their top three contributors. Mr. Ames failed to list his top two contributors, from the vendor, who gave thousands of dollars of 'in kind' contribution to his campaign. Why not?
"It is unfortunate that a candidate would fail to respond accurately to the newspaper's questionnaire on such a sensitive topic," stated Diana Lackey. "For elected officials, or a government office, it is essential that there not be even the appearance of a conflict of interest. I would not accept campaign funds from a vendor dealing directly with the Tax Office. As your Assessor-Collector, I would insure that there were departmental policies in place to prevent the acceptance of gifts. This is similar to the conflict of interest policies I previously established as a county Assistant Assessor managing a department of over 240 employees. I wanted an office above reproach."