New revelations about business deals gone bad and possible corruption are rocking Dallas County’s taxpayer-subsidized bus bureaucracy, which is already struggling to stay afloat due to unchecked financial mismanagement.

Both current and former Dallas County Schools officials are implicated in two questionable business deals that ended up costing taxpayers millions of dollars and may involve improper campaign contributions and kickbacks.

That’s according to new information uncovered by NBC 5 Investigates, much of which centers around current DCS board member Larry Duncan, disgraced former Superintendent Rick Sorrells, and their relationship with the vendor tied to both deals.

In a special report this week, NBC 5 Investigates exposed possible corruption behind a questionable DCS land deal that netted the cash-strapped agency a quick $25 million but will end up costing taxpayers millions more, while the deal’s broker earned a $750,000 commission – $195,000 of which was paid by DCS.

That’s where NBC 5 found a connection to another DCS scandal: the land deal’s broker has ties to Force Multiplier Solutions, the vendor that partnered with DCS in its school bus stop-arm ticketing scheme. In addition to paying them millions for camera equipment, DCS also gave a Force Multiplier associate a $10,000-a-month consulting contract.

Multi-million dollar losses from that failed program, orchestrated by then-Superintendent Sorrells, precipitated the agency’s financial near-collapse and Sorrells’ forced retirement.

Topping it all off, people associated with Force Multiplier contributed a combined $245,000 to Duncan’s campaign, NBC 5 reported – even though he ran unopposed in his last election.

Duncan claims there’s nothing improper about the contributions and said he wasn’t involved in awarding contracts in the deals. Duncan was replaced last week as president but intends to stay on the board until his term expires in 2021.

It’s difficult to tell where mismanagement ends and corruption begins at the ailing bureaucracy, which has been under fire for years.

Dr. Paul Freeman, outgoing chair of the DCS board’s Budget/Finance Committee, even acknowledged that he’d been an ineffective steward of taxpayers’ money. “I didn’t look at the materials enough to see what was really going on,” Freeman said.

Apparently, he wasn’t the only one.

Efforts by lawmakers to shut down the agency before it collapses are still working their way through the Texas Legislature. But time is running out for them to act.

In the meantime, the unnecessary, mismanaged, and scandal-plagued bus bureaucracy continues to cost Dallas County taxpayers millions.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.