Further update: Feb. 1, 10:51 a.m. — Two days after initial reports that he received campaign contributions from James Stanton's four young children, Dallas mayoral candidate and City Council member Scott Griggs issued the following statement:
The Stanton family is remarkable. I applaud the family's commitment to democracy and being involved. I trust the Stanton family will stay involved and I hope more children learn about our democracy and political process.
However, I didn't realize the 2017 campaign contributions from the Stanton family were from young children. Had I known, I wouldn’t have accepted. And while these contributions were legal, I am donating the campaign contributions to a good cause because they don’t meet the high ethical standards I have always held as an elected official.
My campaigns have always attempted to verify every contribution, but we don’t have the resources to conduct background checks on every contributor.
These irrelevant attacks from my opponents are a distraction from the real conversation we should be having about the ideas and values we want in our next mayor. I understand that the front-runner status of our campaign makes everything we do and say a target in this race, but I am more determined than ever to keep my commitment to the people of Dallas and make this election a real debate about the future that our city deserves.
Council member Omar Narvaez also told the Observer on Friday that, rather than returning the donations from the Stantons, he intends to send them to organizations that focus on voter education and getting out the young adult vote.
Update: Feb. 1, 9:58 a.m. — James Stanton III released the following statement, framed as a letter from his kids, Friday morning:
A few words from the Stanton kids:
We hear somebody said we were “the most politically active children in Dallas.” We might be.
We do have a little cred. Three of us have served as elected class officials at our school – Caroline is only in kindergarten so she hasn’t had a chance yet.
Our dad always teaches us that public service is important. We love meeting people who serve in public office, and understanding the way democracy works. Last year on a school holiday, we went to City Hall and toured with our City Council member, Omar Narvaez. We stopped by to see Philip Kingston and Scott Griggs, too. Each of us has sat in their chairs at the horseshoe when the council was not in session.
Last summer, we went to Washington, D.C. It was a great trip. We got to tour the West Wing of the White House and step into the Oval Office. We met over a dozen United States Senators and ate in the Senate Dining Room before watching a floor vote. We visited the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and got to sit in the first row of the chamber before watching the Speaker call the House to order. We learned about the importance of the continuing civil rights movement in our country. To earn our trip, our dad drove us crazy quizzing us over breakfast to learn things about our government.
And, our dad took us to the beaches and cemeteries at Normandy in France to learn about the sacrifices made by others for our freedom and the freedom of the whole world.
We know we are fortunate. We go with our parents when they vote. Someday we want to vote and participate in public service. Until then, we like learning about our government, including politics.
Alexandra, Luke, Eric and Caroline Stanton
(Maybe) the Most Politically Active Children in Dallas
Jan. 31, 2:45 p.m. — Original story
D Magazine's Tim Rogers got the scoop Wednesday afternoon. Three Dallas City Council members — mayoral candidate Scott Griggs, Philip Kingston and Omar Narvaez — received thousands in campaign donations from attorney James Stanton III's four children, who are ages 5-11, according to the Morning News. The donations don't violate any state or federal laws, but they could easily be seen as intended to get around Dallas' own campaign finance rules, which limit individual donations to council members to $1,000, require that contributions must be made by the person who owns the property or cash being donated and prohibits anyone making a donation on behalf of another person.
Stanton is a former district judge — he ran as a Republican — and previously represented Kingston during his spat with the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Board over comments he made to the media while serving on the board.
We'll leave it to you to assess the financial sense and politics of the Stanton kids, but at least one of Griggs' competitors for the mayor's seat believes this should be the end of the road for the Oak Cliff candidate when it comes to his public life.
“The disgusting betrayal of public trust discovered today by the media regarding Scott Griggs’ abhorrent practice of using children to shelter his campaign finance violations disqualifies him from public service," Villalba said. "He owes it to the good men and women of Dallas to immediately withdraw from the mayor’s race, apologize to the citizens of Dallas for his immoral indiscretions and completely withdraw from public service." Villalba said the donations are symptomatic of everything that's wrong with Dallas City Hall.
"Scott Griggs represents everything that is wrong with the current crony corruption regime that has infiltrated Dallas City Hall for far too long. It is time ‘for a new kind of mayor’ – one that respects the law, doesn’t line his pockets at the expense of innocent children, and one who cares more about Dallas than the almighty dollar,” the former Republican state representative said.
The campaign for attorney Regina Montoya, who is also running for mayor, didn't offer an official statement about the donations but said it hopes "all public officials understand they work for the city, and constituents deserve accountability and transparency."
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Thursday afternoon, Narvaez, who is running for re-election against former council member Monica Alonzo in District 6, told the Observer he was returning his donations from the Stanton children.
"I represent the Stantons in District 6, and I know his children. I will continue to support their enthusiasm for politics and accept their efforts as volunteers for my campaign. I have decided to return the contributions even though they are not illegal because I don't want to see these wonderful children used as a political football any longer," Narvaez said.
Griggs, Kingston and Stanton did not respond to requests to comment on the record about the donations.