Mike Rawlings Vowed to Clean Up Dallas, But the Feds Are Spilling Dirt Everywhere

To keep his promise, Dallas' new mayor will have to distance himself from the city's political machine. Good luck with that.

Ever come home from vacation and find spoiled milk in the fridge? When new Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings gets home, he's going to find the whole cow.

It's not just the FBI raids on his campaign supporters. Last week, while Rawlings and his wife vacationed in Paris, Allynmedia, the local political ad agency that ran his campaign, was already meeting with the head of procurement for the City of Dallas. Allynmedia claimed it was a fun lunch to talk about kids and movies. But a city spokesman said the topics were "the term or duration of both the water conservation contract and any electricity contracts with the City of Dallas."

This is exactly what Rawlings promised he would not allow.

During the campaign, Rawlings said he would support a ban on campaign staffers coming back to City Hall to lobby, for themselves or for clients, to land contracts with the city. And since he made that vow, the stakes have gone up considerably. The FBI has been showing up on the doorsteps of his campaign staff, and many of his key supporters have been named in federal documents associated with the probe of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

The current investigation is evoking the same themes we heard during the FBI's 2009 Dallas City Hall corruption probe, which sent former Dallas city council member Don Hill and his wife off to prison. It's all about trading political influence for lucrative public contracts.

With that 2009 case in mind, I asked Rawlings during his campaign about influence peddling at City Hall. I wanted to know whether he would support a ban on campaign consultants coming back to City Hall after elections to get contracts for themselves or other people, in effect trading on their new-found cachet.

"Yes, I would," he said without a moment's pause. "We have got a long way to go to restore the confidence of the voters and trust in our city government."

David Kunkle, his opponent, suggested it might be hard for Rawlings to stick to his vow. Mari Woodlief, Rawlings' campaign boss, is a major lobbyist at City Hall. Willis Johnson, a radio personality and key Rawlings consultant, holds subcontracts and contracts with public entities all over the region.

"I don't care," Rawlings said. "I really don't. The rules need to be tight and hard. This isn't about being nice to people."

Since then, FBI agents have made themselves comfortable in the homes and offices of several people associated with Rawlings and his campaign. They searched the home and office of Price, whose aggressive political support was crucial to Rawlings' victory. They did the same favor for Kathy Nealy, a key Rawlings campaign consultant. Federal documents show the FBI is looking for information about Demetris Sampson, a prominent lawyer and Rawlings campaign supporter with huge county contracts, and Royce West, a state Senator who was an important and early Rawlings supporter credited by some with convincing him to run. And then there's Willis Johnson.

Johnson is a good example of how campaign operatives convert political capital into cash. A radio personality a few short years ago, Johnson now has lucrative technology and construction contracts with almost every significant branch of local government.

In 2008, after the election of former Mayor Tom Leppert, I published emails in which the chair of Leppert's fundraising committee schooled him on how to treat Willis Johnson from there on out.

"Willis is the guy," she wrote. "He is the 'go to' person in all things southern sector and African-American. NO ONE AND I MEAN NO ONE should be going around and usurping his authority."

Since then, nobody has.

What's surprising about the recent FBI raids is that unlike prior federal corruption probes in Dallas, this one seems to look both south, toward the black side of town, and north, toward the white side. One search warrant went to Hillwood Development, owned by the quite wealthy and quite white Perot family. The FBI also visited Allynmedia, of which Woodlief is president.

The Rawlings campaign got important support from kingmakers on both sides of the racial equation. He ran a traditional white-business-establishment campaign, but for the last 15 years, such a strategy has included a hand-in-glove partnership between the business establishment and black leaders associated with Price.

It's all about public works projects, contracts and sub-contracts, and it's the way of the world in Dallas. As Southern Dallas pastor Freddie Haynes put it at an anti-FBI prayer vigil last week: "It's one thing to have civil rights. It's another thing to have your silver rights" — money.

The pattern of FBI search warrants and house calls in Dallas suggests investigators are looking into the Inland Port saga — one of the more notable silver-rights moments in recent history. In that situation, now almost four years old, Price politically sabotaged a jobs-rich, environmentally safe development in his own district after the developer refused to hand over $1.5 million and a 15-percent interest in his company to Price's friends.

Rawlings was still making CEO money when that deal went south. But some of the people who were involved in the Inland Port silver rights situation later became key Rawlings campaign supporters, notably Price, Nealy and Johnson. On the very day Rawlings was inaugurated as mayor, the FBI sent him a tough wake-up call by raiding Price's home and office and Nealy's home and office.

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62 comments
Ruth Ann Cook
Ruth Ann Cook

I see on the CIC Partners web-site that Allyn is a partner with Rawlings. Is this the same Allyn? Is this accurate? Just wondering what's going on...

Ben Dover
Ben Dover

Sorry for the campaign promise,but Eawlkings is Mayor now and it's his turn to be crowned and rule over the shining city by the Trinity.The new mayor stepped in it when he got in bed with the Pric eClub and now his name is tarnished with the same grit that has the Price Club in a world of trouble. When Rawlings was visited by the FBI you could already see the Feds have him dangling as well.The question is , "Why did the new Maylor feel the need to hire Bill Hill, the formaer DA, to represent him to the Feds? The Price Club must be a very big bed , because there are so damned many in it.Must look like a "love in" from the 60's. Someone will start talking soon and maybe get a plea bargain, but one of them will not be Price.He can start getting his personal affairs in order.One bit of information I don't get is how he bought all of those cars ,at an auction no one but him attended,payed almost always the same prices, even amunts like $4000,$5000 for these cars. I've been to many auctions but none like these seem to be.He always got the clouded title fixed with the county tax assessor's office. Do we know ht etax assesor,who would have sold the cars, made a deposit for these cars we can follow in a transparent audit trail? A lot of things stink, but the cars,no where close to logical.

The Pagan Perspective
The Pagan Perspective

"Dallas 'Citizens Council'?" I thought the "Citizens Councils" went out in the 1950's... Oh, wait... this IS the 1950's; we are talking Dallas!'

But, I must admit... it is very forward thinking of the Dallas to have "separate but equal" KKK's. One for the "Northern Sector" and one for the "Southern Sector." No matter what color the sheets are, the results are the same! What is most sad is that the average citizen in either "Sector," is fooling themselves by believing that their "Good Christian" church, business and community leaders really care a damn bit about their well being.

If JWP, EBJ, or "Rev. Elder and First Lady" Fill-in-the-Blank, cared in the least, about the poor of Dallas... they would quit spending their bribes and "walking around money" on big hats and Bentleys, and would be shining light on the subversive and oppressive 1950's political process that runs Dallas. Instead of maintaining their fiefdoms, spending decades in elected offices and church pulpets, they would be openly educating, training and mentoring younger generations, of all races, all religions, and all home languages, on how to break down this economic-evil of a status quo.

Thank the Gods for the FBI... Don't pray against them... Pray that they drag ALL of the skeletons out of Dallas' closets. The only way the youth of the "Southern Sector," who are not kin to Eddie Bernice Johnson or her staffers, are ever going to break out from behind the "Cotton Curtain" will be if the FBI leads the way. Better that the FBI is rattling through the neighborhoods than the DEA... at least the FBI has the Voting Rights Acts of the 1960's in mind.

Bigjoedallas
Bigjoedallas

Pretty sure Bart is CP Henry. Such drivel and nonsense can only come from this washed up hack.

Urbandwellwer203
Urbandwellwer203

I guess I'm always late to these article...I'm on CP time..(hint hint). Nevetheless I must make a short comment because my last post was long. What a smoking gun. You called it out. The thing is, this is part of America's fabric that need to change. Greed with be the destruction of man and wo-man, black, white, etc.

Bart
Bart

BigJoeDallas must be Mari Woodleif in drag....not a pretty picture.

Bigjoedallas
Bigjoedallas

When you compare many of these comments to many of the negative blog comments during the campaign, it is becoming more obvious that Sarah Dodd has a lot of free time on her hands.

diana
diana

From the looks of things, We need to stick together and stick to our guns, devision is a ploy of the enemy thats very effective,case in point (Obama)

diana
diana

At this point have to believe that he has done no wrong, If he did they would have brought it to light.

LuckyJimbeaux
LuckyJimbeaux

....good ol' boy Texas politics...especially in an election year !!

Well if our elected officials are working hard at rebuilding confidence and trust, they sure don't need that "eeeeef beeeee eeeyeee" sniff'n around...heh heh

David Wilson
David Wilson

It would be so easy to solve this problem...

When Rawlings comes back from France, let him listen to the tape Jim posted in May after the LGBT Business debate

http://blogs.dallasobserver.co...

Where the once and future mayor stated for the record that he would not let his campaign consultants carry on as lobbyists at City Hall.

(That whooshing noise in the background is Mari Woodlief sucking wind).

After he listens to the tape, ask him the following question:

Will you, as mayor, initiate the changes required in the city's ethics rules that would prohibit any lobbying by any campaign consultant for the office of mayor or city council on any city issue, and would you make that change retroactive to your campaign staff?

If he says, Yes, ask him when or how long it will take to put on the table. Get a firm date.

Then go ask the City Council members if they will support it (sound of unbridled laughter in the background).

If he says, No, then start the recall drive immediately.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Anyone else get a phone call today from Rev Zan Holmes, inviting us to the rally tomorrow to show our support for JWP---and calling it "an attack" on JWP?

Ben Dover
Ben Dover

I,too, believe Kunkle a man of integrity and voted for him. I knew he was up against the big money of Rawlins,but the voters of Dallas were going to vote for the best person,right? Who knew that Rawlins had Nealy,for a mere $270,000 , to get Rawlins the Southern Dallas vote and endorsement of Price and the "Price" Club.The new mayor may soon be the old mayor. I have to wonder what the FBI has to say to him and how it is all interconnected to the Little Rascals of Southern dallas County? Why is Rawlins campaign people are talking to the city about its choice of utility companies?

Diane Treider
Diane Treider

I'm with other comments left - keep digging FBI, keep digging. Hey, Dallas - buyers remorse yet? I agree with JimS, too - this is why I wanted Kunkle for mayor. I knew Kunkle has true integrity. That is becoming my number one reason to vote for someone now, regardless of party, etc.

JimS
JimS

I don't know that Rawlings knew the money-people who came to him were buying him a dirty campaign. But I do know that Kunkle would never have allowed a nickel to be spent in his name without asking and getting an answer to what it was being spent for. You would never have had Kunkle sputtering into the camera when they asked what kathy Nealy spent $270,000 on and saying, "To get me elected."

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Hey, Same BS guy--

Let me paint a picture for you. The SAME ten or so families have been the hidden movers and shakers in this town for 50 years. They created a group, the DCC, which would HAND PICK the next mayor and city councilmen. Then 14-1 came along to BREAK that cronyism and guess what? They BOUGHT OFF the minority vote. Don't believe me? Go ask any African American in South Dallas who is, say, about 70 yrs old. Ask them. They will tell you the LAST honest, I mean HONEST person in local politics was Juanita Craft. How do you think we avoided the race riots that hit all of America in the 1960's, or the bus protests on a major scale? Promise the po folk a few crumbs form the table and a job. Give them some "walking around money" for "introductions" with the church elders. Get YOUR cronies to donate to their church, a van, a playground, you get the ways...

And then, you get what you want. Look over the last four major elections in this town, and South Dallas votes EXACTLY, EXACTLY the way North Dallas tells them to. Really, now, a rich old white guy, living in the Disney area, or Preston Hollow, will vote the SAME way as a poor school janitor who lives off Hatcher? Get real.

Yes, all are innocent until proven guilty. But you know what? Some of us already know that where this smoke, there is fire. Where the rich whites use the SAME consultants, have the same everything as the "poor blacks" who represent the people,...uh-uh.

I was born at night, but not last night.

Keep digging, FBI. Keep digging.

Same BS from a hack writer
Same BS from a hack writer

Another article from d-bag Jim, making folks into villans with no proof.

I get jwp, nealy, even Willis j, but Rawlings and the ridiculous shots at Woodlief are retarded.

They are all out to get us Jim. Right? That's what you want to expose... Write fact and quit making sh*t up.

Shafer833
Shafer833

This is so depressing. I have really given up hope that Texas in general can shake off the shackles of the rich power brokers. The average middle class citizens have no voice anymore. We are a democracy in name only, IMO.

Dallas Insider
Dallas Insider

Say what you will about Kunkle, but I don't believe you will ever find this kind of stuff associated with his name. But then again, I bet the power brokers, black and white, in Dallas were scared to f***ing death that it was a run-off. Nice way to start off with another corrupt puppet mayor in Dallas.

Does this bull$h!t never end??? We sound more like Chicago or Detroit every single day, and you see where they are headed.

14 single member districts and a mayor only made the city ripe for this kind of corruption.

Xhhhhahha
Xhhhhahha

I work in Mari's building and I saw her walk out of our building's elevator the day the Feds visitied. She sure did not look like that was a friendly visit. Unless her red eyes and ashen skin were from laughing.

feralgrognard
feralgrognard

“But the Feds Are SPILLING Dirt Everywhere”

But for a word meaning is both what it is and what it not, most especially in our schools of Dan Rather Journalism standards. Be 1st with or without the facts or truth but always be 1st, when you can, as the ends justifies, the glory of being a quick journalists over an honest accurate Journalists.

Spill: archaic : kill, destroy; to cause or allow something; to spread profusely or beyond bounds.

So is it the FEDS who are killing, destroying, causing, allowing this alleged DIRT created in Dallas by our political class rulers like it has not happened many times before by the same class of political rulers here in Dallas before.

Perhaps an honest journalist not trained in “HOOK LINE” journalism would have use a more factual and reality based Hook line like: “ But Feds are DISCOVERING dirt Everywhere.” I am just saying which is more accurately reflective of the know facts so far?

We must account for the misleading meanings of even a single word, as so we must account for every silence to those who use even a single word in allusions to thin out meanings in articulated dispersions of intent in either significance or insignificance.

trisha kay
trisha kay

KICK HIM OUT THE DOOR DALLAS.WE DONT NEED ANY MORE CROOKED OFFICIALS.

Martin
Martin

Should have voted Kunkle, Dallas...

A Concerned Citizen
A Concerned Citizen

ok so let me get this straight ... Mayor Rawlings who was just sworn in a couple of weeks ago is already on vacation in Paris? Who exactly is paying for this trip, the mayor or the citizens of Dallas?

Additionally, Mayor Rawlings appears to be keeping up with the best traditions of elected Dallas County officals of saying one thing to get elected then continually doing the opposite once in office.

Let there be LIGHT!
Let there be LIGHT!

Mari Woodlief of AllynMedia knows exactly where the Rawlings money really went - to Kathy Nealy, JWP, Black Pastors with their hands out in exchange for their endorsement and the Democratic machine that gets paid to get the vote out. Oh, and the black voters who show their stamped voter registration card and got a little 'walkin' 'round money'.

Mari has no intention of giving up the mainstay of her business: access. As the most successful and connected lesbian political operative in Dallas she makes big bucks selling her access to anyone willing to pay the price.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

I was thinking(I try to every now and then) about these S.Dallas preachers getting their congregations to pray to God for JWP and other corrupt or allegedly corrupt folks from that side of the tall, shiny, spiraling buildings... and now wonder if the God they are praying to is of the green persuasion with pictures of past presidents on them.?.and don't forget kids to beg, borrow, and steal!

Robbie C
Robbie C

Rawlings raised and spent more than 2 million dollars on his campaign for mayor - 10 times what Kunkle spent. What does that tell you? Why did he want the job so badly? My gut tells me that he does not have the best interests of the citizens of Dallas at heart.

Joe L
Joe L

Thanks for your work on corruption in Dallas. You're right. We certainly don't expect the Dallas Morning News to expose the corruption of the public officials they support so uncritically.

Let's see if Rawlings is astute enough to distance himself from Price and his mafia without alienating the misguided South Dallas African Americans who still support Price and are rallying.

I guess we see how close to the Lord those 'church leaders' are.

Publicintegrity
Publicintegrity

Perhaps an Open Records Request to all of Willis Johnson's contractual counterparties would be an interesting read.

Publicintegrity
Publicintegrity

Stay tuned to Drudgereport....going to pick up corruption story. Observer has kicked DMN in the teeth on this story. About to go national and DMN will be even more marginalized and irrelevant.

This is a huge story and those who lose the race to the courthouse are going to pay dearly.

You see...it doesn't take Laura Miller filth and histrionics to sell papers and be relevant in the news world. Schutze and Wilonsky, keep digging.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

The Grand Jury is scheduled to convene on July 20 (Wednesday). No one has been/will be accused until indictments are issued. So, let's wait to see what happens.

ABetterDallas
ABetterDallas

Diane,

What you are saying is so offensive, and so racist, it is making my head spin.

You are implying that African Americans in South Dallas don't have a brain and do what the "machine"from the North tells them to do.

That is insane, ignorant and wrong.

If people in the North and people in the South are voting for the same candidate, why can't that just mean that the candidate has a message that resonates with more than one group?? Why can't that mean that a candidate is bringing people together?

Why does it have to mean something sinister and oppressive is going on?

People in the North and people in the South voted for Obama, was that the BIG WHITE MACHINE duping people in the South too??

Some people in the South voted for David Kunkle. Some people in the North voted for David Kunkle. What does that mean?? Does it mean that Kunkle's voters had their own brain and Rawlings voters didn't? Or does it mean that the folks from the North running Kunkle's campaign weren't as effective "buying people off" as you put it.

Whatever you are implying is ugly, offensive and inaccurate.

There are many political consultants in town. CP Henry ran a successful campaign AGAINST the "machine", as you call it, in District 13 with Ann Margolin, but ran an unsuccessful campaign with David Kunkle.

CP wins some and loses some.

The Reeds win some and lose some.

Allyn Media wins some and loses some.

Lorlee Bartos, Pat Cotten, Betty Culbreath, Brenda Reyes, Minerva Rodriguez, Kathy Nealy, etc.

There is no machine that wins every time against all odds.

Laura Miller was honest. Tom Leppert was honest. Mike Rawlings is honest. Countless city councilmembers, state reps and Senators from Dallas are honest.

I am sorry that you are SO angry, but you need to change your perspective.

The fact that there is another FBI investigation in Dallas is disappointing. But don't let that cloud your vision of ALL politics in Dallas.

JML
JML

Lets see what the FBI and courts have to say, before you go popping off at the mouth!

Jessica
Jessica

Dallas Insider, you are soooo right! Kunkle was their worst nightmare! He would have taken names and kicked ass!!!!

Bigjoedallas
Bigjoedallas

Thanks interesting. I also work in Mari's office and saw her the day the FBI visited and she looked relaxed. Take your hate elsewhere.

Sdfsdf
Sdfsdf

Ech, feral, you are a hooooo-rrible writer, and your logic is, uh, hmm. Wat are trying to say, exactly? This reads like you pulled words out of the air.

CRA
CRA

Jealousy is a bitch - deal with it. A Schutze, you will never be!!!

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

Oh, you must have missed that the winner of the Mayoral run-off race was also the winner of a trip for two to Paris.........runner-up received a free trip for two to Dallas.

Bigjoedallas
Bigjoedallas

"Let there be light" most likely is a competing political consultant that has lost to Mari Woodlief in the past. The fact is Mari has built a very successful company because she has never resorted to the type of name calling, vitriol, personal attacks and false characterizations (like those in your original comment) in the campaigns she manages.

But, go ahead and keep up the hate if it helps you feel better about yourself.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

Anyone who had a "message that resonated with the voters" would not have had to spend $270k to buy the votes. If the candidate was as charismatic as you describe, he would have never hired KNealey to run his South Dallas campaign.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

You are the racist, and don't even try to paint me as one....

I am sick to death of that card being played ANY TIME an observation that does not jive with someone's false beliefs abotu Dallas, especially South Dallas, come into play.

"Some people voted for Kunkle." Yes, SOME--S O M E. BUT, South Dallas "went' for Rawlingas, look it up.

The vote for Obama--which I was a part of, thankyou very much, was an anomoly. Gee, first black man to run on a major party ticket, and you think? THAT is your evidence?

Okay, AAC vote? Convention Center Hotel? Did you even SEE the "press conference" the Men of God held on THAT! It was a "lynching' of Harlan Crow's character---making fun of his name, IMPLYING that he was Jim Corw= and who was right there--Well, old Rev Freddie Haynes III. Please explain how building a hotel is ANY of God's business?

Are you naive or blind to politics in Dallas? When the black ministers get on tv, and throw their support, why do they do that? Oh yea, to GET OUT THE VOTE IN THEIR AREA. Duh. So again, Trinity River Toll Road vote? Strong Mayor vote? Vilifying Miller for not bending over for Jerry Jones? Who complained the most, inferring she was racist?

The Murchisons bulldozed an entire neighborhood when the Cowboys came to the Cotton Bowl. There was going to be all this development, jobs, yada, yada. Been down Hatcher lately? Metropolitan? Pine? Where is the shopping mall over there? Any high rise business parks? Yea, tell me another one. You see, you have to know history, honey. You don't .

When you use your real name and want to debate based on knowledge, you let me know. Until then, go ahead, throw out the race card--you've played it now. What else you got?

p.s. You used the term, "another FBI investigation." WAKE UP! ANOTHER is right.

Still don't get it
Still don't get it

I agree. Before dragging peoples names and reps through the mud, wait for the courts and FBI to actually find something. I think they already have on previously mentioned JWP, Nealy, and maybe even Johnson. I hate seeing all others around painted with the same brush. Rawlings has not been put under investigation nor has Allyn so quit lumping them into the mix.

feralgrognard
feralgrognard

Another gasp by Generation Duh in limited retort in the “duh” dialect of ech, uh, hmm and Wat, of that fictional urban dictionary “me no understand” verity.

“Having said nothing, nothing is all he has to lose.”- An alteration of William Shakespeare original quote.

LesliO
LesliO

I originally thought it was the heat that was making me dizzy and headache-y, but it was actually feralgrognard's comment.

Church Lady
Church Lady

Ms Birdwell,Hold their feet to the fire!The Dallas Convention center hotel flies in the face of all logic.A government financed business competing against private business.If you build it, will they come?YOU GO GIRL!

T.T. Boy
T.T. Boy

That's because Allyn and Mike have "receipts," right? It curious that your sometime partner Carol Reed's name has not been mentioned considering her close ties with the Perots and Kathy Nealey.

feralgrognard
feralgrognard

Trust your judgment it is not the heat for when one starts with Zero, it still sums to Zero as proven so literally here.

Hate begets hate. Disrespect begets Disrespect. Ignorance begets ignorance. In using one or more of these, one only shows they have little to add or give but self describing themselves as either endowed with one or another if not all three.

 
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