As a blogger and a Dallas native, I have to confess some ambivalence about this story. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price represents all that is bad about big city politics — the corruption, the disingenuous strategic use of race, the rampant stupidity, the embarrassing corruption, and, by the way, the ridiculous corruption. In the extreme nature and morbid hilarity of its politics, Dallas is Detroit, delayed, but County Commissioner John Wiley Price does his best to speed things along in Big D. He hasn’t called anyone “Shrek” during a dignified commission meeting as far as I know (though he did, as commenter Mike reminds me, say to some constituents “All of you are white. Go to hell” last year), but “our man downtown” has his own brand of low comedy at the ready. What will we do, I ask you, if we lose the man who thinks the term “black hole,” along with “Black Friday” and pretty much anything else using “black” as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb or in any other way is “racist”? What. Will. We. Do?
I mean, once we stop laughing and can calm down the “I told you so’s,” what will we do if we lose John Wiley Price to jail?
A federal affidavit disclosed on Thursday that the FBI seized more than $460,000, along with expensive watches and other fine jewelry, as part of its corruption investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
The seizures include $229,590 in $100 bills … bundled in bank bags, one marked “cheerleaders,” …that was taken from a safe in Price’s Oak Cliff home.
“Cheerleaders”? There has to be a juicy story behind that one. Do tell, FBI.
The feds confiscated another $230,763 which they said had been given to Price when he sold property at 7001 Grady Niblo Road to a North Texas developer.
All the cash came from a money laundering scheme, bankruptcy fraud or “theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds,” according to the affidavit filed by FBI Agent Donald Sherman, the lead investigator in the corruption case against Price and several of his associates.
Read up on some of ways Price operates Dallas like a mob boss at the left-of-center Dallas Observer, where blogger Jim Schutze explains why it’s taken a few years to get to the bottom of the whole thing. Essentially, ask Price and his associates a question, any question at all on just about any topic, and the reply you’ll get is “That’s racist!” Coming from a man who believes astronomy itself is racist, that’s really not much of a surprise.
Back to the FBI’s complaint:
It also questioned more than $500,000 in payments in “various forms” to Price from his long-time consultant, Kathy Nealy. Her company, the affidavit added, received more than $2 Million from other clients “with legislative or contractual matters under the jurisdiction or influence of the Dallas County Commissioners” Court.
In places that are not Dallas, Detroit, Chicago or Washington, D.C., that’s known as corruption. But in Dallas it’s just how JWP rolls, at least until the FBI started poking around. Which is racist, of course.
Noting Price’s relatively average salary as a public servant, the affidavit cast a suspicious light on his seemingly extravagant lifestyle, including a half-million dollars in loans, gifts and payments from “a wealthy female friend.”
That money included $45,000 to help Price purchase a 2005 Bentley, one of several luxury cars mentioned in the court records.
The affidavit also accused Price of lying to the Internal Revenue Service and hiding assets from the IRS.
The FBI spent much of June 27, 2011 searching Price’s home and offices.
On that day, federal officials executed a search warrant at the 6th Floor Book Depository in downtown Dallas, the location of Dallas County Commissioners offices. Agents also searched the home of the District 3 commissioner, in Oak Cliff, gathering documents and property well into the evening.
The scandal isn’t limited to Price or Nealy, no siree. It’s even touching the current mayor, prompting a cover version of Rep. Joe Wilson’s famous “You lie!” That part of the complaint alleges that the mayor and Price and associates swapped piles of money for endorsements, leaving left-of-center Schutze at the Observer blogging about a very old concept that’s out of fashion on the left: sin. Price enriched himself via corrupt deals and creative accounting while his constituents’ lives haven’t gotten better at all. This part of the scandal may be less superficially interesting than the “cheerleaders” sidebar, but it could bring the city’s government down.
We’re a ways yet from losing John Wiley Price to jail. The FBI document dump is part of a civil, not criminal, complaint against Commissioner Price. So we can’t yet deploy Photoshop and make a LOLCats style graphic saying “John Wiley Price — U Goin 2 Jail.” Which is good, because that would be racist.