In the runoff election to replace retiring Fort Worth Councilmember Dennis Shingleton, allegations continue to surface around candidate Leonard Firestone, the latest now involving records showing he did not vote in the May local elections.
Texas Scorecard came into possession of Tarrant County’s record of Firestone’s voting history and that of his opponent in the June 5 runoff, Zeb Pent. The documents were shared with Tarrant County Elections, who verified the information.
According to this record, Firestone hasn’t voted in any of the May city elections, though it does show he voted in the joint city and primary runoff in July 2020, a race where none of the city council seats or mayoral seats were up for election. Firestone did not respond before publication to a press inquiry on this.
He is endorsed by Shingleton and outgoing Mayor Betsy Price, despite no record showing he voted in elections where they competed. Neither Price nor Shingleton responded to a press inquiry on this before publication time.
Zeb Pent’s record shows he voted in the May 2015, 2017, and 2019 local elections. Pent is shown to only have voted in Republican primaries, and Firestone is shown to have voted in all Republican primaries except in 2008, during then-presidential candidates Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s competition for the Democrat Party nomination.
Firestone’s lack of voting in the May local elections is only the latest issue revealed. In April, a citizen filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission against him, alleging he’d committed “illegal campaign finance activities.” The allegation centers around a $10,000 contribution his campaign received from the “Paxton Motheral Campaign.”
In January, Texas Scorecard reported on Motheral, who manages a company that has profited from an economic development agreement with the city. Motheral originally filed to run for the District 7 seat on January 29. On January 21, he appointed Firestone as his campaign treasurer. Motheral withdrew on February 12—the last day he could do so—while Firestone filed his application to run and appointed Motheral as his campaign treasurer.
The Motheral campaign has still not filed a campaign finance report with the city. Attorney Darren Keyes, representing the citizen who filed the ethics complaint, has alleged the lack of a report makes the donation from Motheral’s campaign to Firestone’s “anonymous” because Motheral’s donors remain unreported. Keyes said “anonymous campaign contributions” are illegal under the Texas Election Code. Firestone and Motheral haven’t responded to press inquiries from Texas Scorecard on this matter.
Firestone’s campaign has also received campaign contributions from attorney Dee Kelly Jr. and political action committees he is the treasurer of, which have received funding from Ed and Sid Bass. A 1995 D Magazine article explained how the powerful Bass brothers (Sid, Ed, Robert, and Lee) have been intertwined in the operations of Fort Worth and how Kelly’s father was known as a “gatekeeper.” It also lays out the Fort Worth establishment “pyramid,” who is involved, and how it works.
The Fort Worth mayoral race this year saw Kelly Jr.’s faction of the establishment fight against Congresswoman Kay Granger’s faction, each backing different candidates to replace Mayor Price. Kelly Jr.’s pick, Mattie Parker, defeated Granger-backed former Councilman Brian Byrd and now faces Democrat Deborah Peoples in the June 5 runoff.
Early voting for the June 5 runoff is from May 24 to June 1.