Fresh off of her involvement in a green energy scandal in West Texas, Laura Miller is seeking to return to Dallas city government after several years consulting for a company that bilked taxpayers for limousines, first-class travel, spas, and alcohol.

Now a candidate for Dallas City Council against incumbent Jennifer Staubach Gates, Miller was elected mayor of Dallas from 2002 to 2007. As mayor, Miller co-founded the Texas Clean Air Cities Coalition to oppose coal-based power.

After leaving the mayor’s office, Miller cashed in on her green energy bona fides and went to work as a consultant for Summit Power Group, a Seattle-based company that received a $450 million grant from the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy to build a “clean coal” plant near Odessa.

However, the DOE pulled their grant in 2016 when they discovered that Summit’s project was billions of dollars over budget and behind schedule. But that wasn’t before they wasted $116 million of taxpayer funds.

An Office of Inspector General audit of the project found the company had abused its federal funding, spending millions on expenses that violated federal law. The report found that Summit spent:

  • $38 million on reimbursements for expenditures without required documentation.
  • $2.5 million paid for questionable/prohibited expenses, including catering for a private jet.
  • $1.2 million on lobbying, which is prohibited for grant recipients under federal law.
  • $1.3 million for travel and personal expenses including spas, alcohol, first-class travel, limousines, and meals.

Laura Miller is married to former State Rep. Steve Wolens, a Democrat who now serves as chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission. The TEC is tasked with enforcing state ethics laws, including rules requiring reporting of gifts by public servants.

That would typically be considered ironic, but the TEC has come under fire in recent years for its own deeply unethical behavior and abuse of power.

Early voting in the race for Dallas City Council continues through April 30. Election Day is May 4.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.