Super PAC pumped big money into runoff races

By Lori Brown

A new city council was sworn in on Monday in the City of Dallas, and FOX 4 has learned a super PAC pumped big money into three small local runoff races.

Campaign finance reports show North Dallas' business elite pumped nearly $200,000 into three southern Dallas council races, and it appears the money helped tip the scales in their favor.

After a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, for the first time in a Dallas election, there was no limit on how much money super PACS could raise or spend.

"It's tremendously unhealthy. It creates a mockery of our campaign finance limits that the people voted in specifically to prevent the kind of thing that happened," said Philip Kingston with Dallas City Council, District 14.

The PAC "For Our Community" raised nearly $200,000 through some very big checks.

Developer Crow Holdings gave a $25,000 check.

Oilman and real estate developer Ray Hunt and his descendant, Al Hill, Jr., and the CEO of Hunt Oil Company's real estate division gave a total of $75,000.

Former Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks, Ambit Energy founder Jere Thompson and former TXU CEO Erle Nye also wrote big checks.

"It looks like business interests in North Dallas are trying to influence who won in South Dallas," said FOX 4's Lori Brown.

"Well, For Our Community sent me an informational email saying direct expenditure," said Casey Thomas with Dallas City Council, District 3. "No one contacted me directly or anything of that nature. I assume they saw my platform, and what it was going to be about how it would benefit the city and decided to offer their support."

FOX 4 asked the three runoff winners supported by the super PAC if they saw any conflict with interests in the north trying to sway races in the south.

"I don't believe there is a conflict of interest," said Tiffinni Young with Dallas City Council, District 7. "What we have talked about in Dallas for the last few years is healing the North/South divide, so I don't see that as a conflict of interest because it is all about bringing the city together as one."

"I think it's the same in terms of responsibilities I have to my constituents in District 8," said Erik Wilson with Dallas City Council, District 8. "When they call me about pot holes, when they call me about loose dogs, when they call me about grocery stores. I'm a council person for District 8 as well as the city of Dallas."

Council member Kingston, who was not up for re-election, believes the big money was all about getting the Trinity Parkway Toll Road built.

"They're the last life line for that stupid project," said Kingston. "Every smart person in town is against the thing, and then there's this creepy PAC with piles of money throwing it at Southern Dallas to try to keep it alive. It tells you everything you need to know about the merits of that project."

Each of the three South Dallas runoff winners told FOX 4 that they support the mayor's dream team plan, which calls for a smaller meandering road.

However, Kingston believes the city will be forced to scrap that plan due to a lack of funding.

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