Oct 5, 2021 - Politics

Johnson’s ethics reform task force recommends changes

Dallas City Hall and the plaza in front.

Photo: Ben Torres/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mayor Eric Johnson's Ethics Reform Task Force recently suggested several changes to the way Dallas addresses ethics concerns in city government.

  • The task force's recommendations include the creation of the Office of Inspector General, which would be a central repository for all ethics complaints and also have the power to investigate them.

Why it matters: Corruption and bribery are the pernicious enemies of democracy and fair government. When Johnson took office, he promised to rewrite the city's ethics rules to "permanently" end corruption among city officials.

What they're saying: "We've seen too many clear instances of corruption that have undermined our efforts to build a safer, stronger city," Johnson said in a news conference last week. "We've heard far too many questions about how business gets done here."

Flashback: In 2019, former Council member Carolyn Davis admitted to accepting more than $40,000 in bribes. (Davis and her daughter were killed in a car crash later that year.)

Former Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison after pleading guilty to accepting close to half a million dollars in bribes from developer Ruel Hamilton.

  • Hamilton faces up to 25 years in prison for his involvement in both cases. His sentencing is scheduled for next month.

Details: The new report also includes suggestions for reforming campaign finance, an often overlooked aspect of municipal ethics.

  • The task force recommends simplifying the city's ethics code to create more clear-cut rules for officials.

What's next: The council's general investigating and ethics committee will likely be briefed about the latest report later this month.

  • The entire council could vote on a reform package within a few months.

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