Social Media Tools: Once Again, Why Did Leppert Hire D.C. Dude to Run Web Site?

As we told you at the end of Monday's item about Mayor Tom Leppert's new Web site, consultant Laura Reed Martin was supposed to get back with us about the decision to hire Washington, D.C.-based Stan Olshefski to handle the site's upcoming redesign. Stuff like this normally wouldn't be that interesting, but, as we noted, Olshefski's ties to the Beltway and experience with a Senate campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee seem awfully coincidental given the mayor's aspirations to succeed U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Martin never returned our phone call, which we attributed to flashbacks stemming from an October 2008 interview during the convention center hotel campaign. Undeterred, we tried again. She eventually engaged us in an e-mail chat, which you can find after the jump.

What prompted the decision to change the mayor's Web site management from Sophia Dowl/Willis Johnson to Stan Olshefski?

Vendors were changed to a group that has more experience with new social media tools that are available.

(Dowl, owner of Alpha Business Images on N. Central Expressway, is married to Willis Johnson, Leppert's top South Dallas political consultant. Freelance writer Trey Garrison uncovered Dowl's ties to Leppert when she was quoted in a pro-hotel press release.)

If Mayor Leppert hasn't made up his mind about a Senate run, why would he seek out someone like Olshefski, who works in Washington, D.C., and has experience working on former Senator Santorum's campaign and for the National Republican Senatorial Committee?

We changed vendors to a group that has more experience in the new social media tools that are available.

I understand you wanted someone with more social networking experience, but why did you seek a Washington company?

The company was selected based on their product, not where they were located.

(Judge the product for yourself here. And here.)

Why is the mayor creating new social networking accounts on sites like Facebook when he already has established ones?

Just changing from a Facebook profile and its limitations to a Facebook page.

Again, if Mayor Leppert hasn't made up his mind about a Senate run, why did he not receive any contributions in the last six months of last year and then turn his zoo fund-raiser into a charity event?

Because we didn't attempt to raise any money. The zoo event has always been revenue neutral and has been considered a community event and not a fundraiser. Changing the beneficiary to a nonprofit removed officeholder limitation on who could help sponsor the event.

(Campaign finance reports show that Leppert's fund-raiser at the zoo cost approximately $14,000 while he brought in more than $50,000 in donations in the months surrounding the event. While it's difficult to know which contributions were given in connection with the fund-raiser, it's unlikely that the event was in fact "revenue neutral.")

Why weren't you trying to raise money last year?

The Mayor spent his energy raising money for a project that he felt was very important to the City of Dallas, the Convention Center Hotel.

But the hotel referendum was over in May. What money was there to raise for the hotel after that?

None. Just took a break. Raising money in last fall's economic environment was not attractive.

(It was, however, attractive enough for others. As we previously reported, council members Ann Margolin {$24,530}, Tennell Atkins {$21,600} and Dwaine Caraway {$17,570} reported some nice hauls during the same period.)

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten