First there was the heavy smoke that enveloped the City Council campaign of Adam McGough, Mike Rawlings former chief of staff. Now, a $10,000 contribution given from the mayor's campaign fund to another former staffer running for council, Sam Merten, is raising questions.
Given that Dallas' arcane election laws allow the mayor to do pretty much whatever he wants with campaign cash, the allegations against Merten -- which have popped up primarily in comment sections and social media -- center on whether he violated the city's ethics code by taking the money.
The code forbids any city employee from taking a gift or benefit that rewards official conduct. Merten says that while the money was for work he performed, it wasn't for anything he did on city time as the mayor's spokesperson.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"[After the Dallas school district's home rule commission was convened] the mayor decided to, basically, pay me for all the work I'd done on the home rule initiative because that was not a city of Dallas initiative, but something that he'd asked me to participate in," Merten says.
He and Rawlings went to extreme measures, Merten says, to make sure the city didn't pay for his contributions to the home rule fight.
"Anytime I attended a meeting about home rule, I was off the clock at the city. Anytime I reached out to media about that, it was from my personal email account. Anytime I even had a lunch with somebody, it was outside of getting paid at City Hall, because, again, it was not a city initiative" he says.
Bottom line: The payment doesn't seem to run directly afoul of the law or ethics code. Doesn't mean it's not nice to have a rich political sugar daddy, though.