Are All Dallas-Area Democrats Ethically Challenged?

Democratic State Rep. Helen Giddings and Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson are getting massive no-bid contracts from Dallas Love Field. And they are shocked — outraged, even — that some are a little worried about it. If you’re going to hold an office of public trust, and then make big bucks off of no-bid, sweetheart-deal contracts, I guess the only option is to be loud and proud.

Earlier this week, former Democratic State Rep. Terri Hodge was sentenced for her role in a federal corruption investigation that rocked Dallas City Hall. It had to do with contracts being awarded, sweetheart deals and the like.

Let’s be clear: no one is alleging ethical problems or corruption in this case. But in the policy of politics, appearances account for a lot. The appearance of this no-bid contract going to elected officials… that’s pretty shady, in a city with not the best ethical reputation right now.

Remember, Love Field is controlled by the City of Dallas. The city decides who gets concessions in the airport and who doesn’t.

In this case, the concession is for the sale of books, magazines and the like. Holding this lucrative concession is Hudson Retail-Dallas, which is 25 percent owned by Ms. Giddings. Another 15 percent is owned by the blind trust operated for Ms. Johnson. (Apparently it isn’t so blind, eh?)

The biggest airline operating out of Love Field is Southwest Airlines. They’ve asked the city to hold off on awarding these no-bid contracts, saying they aren’t convinced this is in the best interest of the airport’s patrons.

At a Dallas City Council meeting yesterday, Democratic State Rep. Giddings defended being awarded a non-bid contract.

“There are three things that are very important to me in my life. My creator, my family and my character… some of you on this council… have contributed to tarnishing my reputation and I don’t appreciate it.”

In the video posted at the Dallas Morning News website, the Democratic lawmaker went on to say she never lobbied for the no-bid contract. She made a point of saying how she had the mayor in her home two times for small dinners, and never once mentioned the lucrative business she gets from her city contract.

But you see, Rep. Giddings, that’s the problem. As a sitting member of the Texas House, whose business partner is a member of Congress, you really don’t have to lobby. That name and title does a pretty good job all by itself.

She said the newspaper was trying to lynch her. Oh, please. You and your partner are among the most powerful people in the state. And, yes, that probably doesn’t escape the notice of the people consider whether or not to award you a no-bid contract.

If you are so concerned about your character, prove through an open-bid process that your business really is the best deal for the patrons of Love Field — and the taxpayers that underwrite the airport.

Otherwise, it looks pretty shady. If not downright unethical. But then, maybe being willing to appear a little ethically challenged is a requirement for being a Democratic officeholder in Dallas?

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Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael is the CEO of Empower Texans. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

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