As Bethany mentioned in Leading Off this morning, District Attorney Craig Watkins is backpedaling. After county auditor Virginia Porter claimed she’d brought the DA’s office evidence in early 2008 that a constable was taking kickbacks from a towing company, Watkins initially said his office hadn’t gotten the information until late 2009. Now he’s changed his tune. Here’s the statement he gave the Dallas Morning News:
“She’s telling the truth. In no way did I intend to impugn her integrity. I am certain that if the auditor says she sent the memo in February 2008, that was the case. The District Attorney’s Office didn’t have record of it until October 2009. What happens in my office is my full responsibility. The District Attorney’s Office has taken appropriate action on this information since receiving and acknowledging this memo.”
Without saying someone in his office screwed up, he’s saying someone in his office screwed up. And he’s taking responsibility for that screw-up. This is very unlike Craig Watkins. It’s what he should have said in the first place but didn’t. As a result, what should have been a one-day news story of minor significance has played out in the paper for three days, culminating with a well-written, damning editorial that reads, in part: “What’s clear is that Watkins is frittering away all the deserved attention and praise he earned for his pursuit of justice for the wrongly convicted, undoing his office’s good works in a fit of double-talk and arrogance.”
So who is behind the DA’s adjusted attitude? Do I sense the gentle ministrations of a former D Magazine managing editor turned communications director?
(So that you know: yes, of course, Eric Celeste, the communications director for the DA’s reelection campaign, remains a good friend. And, yes, of course, when we have a drink together, we talk about our jobs. But Eric is very careful about what he says about his. I wrote the above without any inside knowledge of how the last three days have unfolded. Just speculation on my part.)