By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Later he tried to reinforce his accusation by saying that an intermediary for an intermediary had called and left a message asking if Domingo would discuss certain things about Miller, which Garcia assumed meant a bribe.
What's he got on his phone machine anyway? "Hi, this is Domingo. If you are calling to offer me a bribe for my endorsement, please press 1."
But it's enough for the Dunning people. (Dunning, by the way, did not return calls for this story.) Desperate for a way to slime Miller, who has just gutted them in their own North Dallas base, they seize on Domingo's lie about Miller as a way to slop the slime on both of them. So what if they slime their own new best minority friend in the process? Minority friends aren't like real friends anyway.
The Dunning people, with help from the slime-meisters on The Dallas Morning News editorial page, start painting the cash-for-endorsement deal as strictly a Garcia-Miller dispute.
OK, if this is going to be all about the politics of smoke and smears, then I think there are some things everybody should know. Last summer the Dallas Observer published a long investigative story about vote fraud in Dallas ("Absentee Minded," August 30, 2001), which showed how absentee ballots are scammed from minority voters and peddled to campaigns for as little as $5 apiece. Since then, the Dallas County District Attorney's Public Integrity section has been conducting an investigation into possible vote fraud in Dallas. Eric Mountin, head of the public integrity section, has told me he expects to produce criminal charges within the next month or so.
Obviously Mountin won't tell me who is being called before the grand jury or what is being asked of them. But I have other sources, and those sources have told me, for example, that one of the first things the grand jury does when it starts questioning a new witness is hold up a copy of our story and ask him how much of it is true.
One witness told the grand jury it was all true except for one thing. He said one of the public officials quoted in our piece as saying he didn't know anything about it--and no, it isn't Garcia--was a liar.
One of Dunning's people went in with a prepared statement attacking the district attorney for investigating vote fraud in the first place and accusing him of trying to frighten minority voters away from the polls.
Now, let's stick with that point for a moment, because the use of the race card by the Dunning campaign is very important. I asked political consultants working for all three campaigns if they would let me see how they spend their candidate's money. Rob Allyn, Miller's consultant, opened his books to me. Don Hicks, the African-American political consultant who ran Garcia's Southern Dallas campaign, opened his books to me.
But if you touch the Dunning campaign on this issue, they've got a spring-loaded race card just waiting for you. Kathy Nealy, who has received $178,500 in consultant fees already from the Dunning campaign--a fortune, a sluice of cash--said angrily on the telephone: "I'm not going to show you anything, Mr. Schutze. Why don't you ask Rob Allyn what he spends his money on. I find this very racist, Mr. Schutze."
Which race am I insulting? The old rich white guys who play golf at restricted clubs?
Better question: What do I want to see in the budgets of these consultants? I want to see how much of their money actually goes to legitimate campaign expense and how much of it may be winding up in the pockets of various preachers and leaders who are endorsing candidates.
What Allyn and Hicks showed me looked like legitimate campaign expense. But Dunning's consultant called me a racist and slammed the phone in my ear. To an investigative reporter, that's like five quick yanks on the end of your fishing pole.
If Tom Dunning wants to make this about money and influence, then I have one thing to say: Show me the Kathy Nealy money.
Tom, check it out. Ask questions. Get yourself informed, so you know what's really going on in your own campaign down to the nuts and bolts. And then do two things:
1) Tell us in detail what Kathy Nealy spends her money on.
2) Stand up in front of the cameras and the microphones, haul up your drawers and tell us in a big strong voice that nobody associated in any way with your campaign has been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury that is currently investigating criminal election fraud in Dallas County.
I dare you.
I double-dare you.