In Corruption Trial, Defense Keep Asking, "But What About Laura?" (Again, Live Bloging)
Well, looks like the frequent mentions of former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller in the federal Dallas City Hall corruption trial ain't just Dixie. The defense clearly plans to argue that the FBI should have gone after Miller, because she took a ton of money from developer Brian Potashnik, who's agreed to a plea deal in the case, and then vouched for his projects later at City Hall.
She did get the money. She did vouch. Nobody has ever said she told Potashnik to give her the money or she wouldn't vouch. And nobody ever rolled hundreds of hours of wiretaps on her either, the way they did for the 14 defendants in this case.
The what-about-Laura argument will be part of an assertion that this whole trial is an exercise in racial oppression. Miller didn't get fingered by the FBI, the defense will argue, because she's white. This is an argument that has been out there on the street since the first FBI raids. Now it's in court.
This morning Victor Vital, Sheila Farrington's lawyer, asked FBI agent John Skillestad, "Can you tell the jury if there were any wiretaps of Laura Miller?" Skillestad seemed to hesitate a bit, but eventually he said, "There was not a wiretap of her phone, no."
"Were you aware that Laura Miller received tens of thousands of campaign contributions from Brian Potashnik?" Vital asked.
"I have heard that from media reports."
"But the FBI did not investigate ... Did the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigate the connection between campaign contributions and her ardent and avid support of Brian Potashnik's projects?"
The agent said no.
Later, during cross, federal prosecutor Marcus Busch asked Skillestad, "Did you have reasons to open a public corruption investigation of Laura Miller?" Skillestad said no.
Later Busch asked a second FBI agent, Alan Wilson, "If you decide today, and I will just pick on Laura Miller, if you wanted to open up an investigation on Laura Miller, how would you do that?"
Wilson said, "We can't just open an investigation because we want to." He explained that there has to be an allegation or act to cause suspicion, and then a long chain of approvals is required for any public corruption investigation, including approval from FBI headquarters in Washington.
Hello, Laura! See ya in the funny papers.