In yet another Dallas City Council public corruption scandal, former council member Carolyn Davis pleaded guilty to taking over $40,000 in bribes from the developer of a low-income housing project, federal authorities announced Friday.
Davis, a Democrat who represented South Dallas’ District 7 from 2007 to 2015, admitted she actively sought the bribes.
In exchange, Davis used her influence as chair of the council’s housing committee to advocate for Dallas real estate developer Ruel Hamilton’s Royal Crest housing project, according to plea documents filed with the U.S. Attorney’s office.
With Davis’ active support, Hamilton received $168,000 in city funding and a $2.5 million loan from the Dallas Housing Finance Corporation. Davis also pushed the city to favor Royal Crest over a competing project to receive low-income housing tax credits.
Davis pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and agreed to a three-year prison sentence.
Hamilton was indicted on two bribery charges relating to the case and faces up to 20 years in federal prison. He’s also accused of paying a $7,000 bribe to former Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway. Caraway, a Democrat, resigned last August after pleading guilty to taking $450,000 in bribes in the Dallas County Schools public corruption scandal. Democrat ex-council member Larry Duncan also pleaded guilty in the DCS scheme.
Hamilton, who heads AmeriSouth Realty, is a major donor to local and state Democrat candidates.
Ten years ago, in what became known as the “Dallas City Hall Corruption Case,” federal authorities prosecuted over a dozen defendants, including then-Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill and State Rep. Terri Hodge (D–Dallas), in an extortion and money laundering scheme involving low-income housing.
Dallas’ mayor and all 14 city council seats are on the May 4 ballot. Given the recurring public corruption within city hall, Dallas voters should choose carefully.