On March 13, about 25 people gathered in a back room of an East Dallas church. Most  were Hispanic leaders invited by Mayor Mike Rawlings to hear why DISD should be brought under home rule and have its charter rewritten. But Rawlings recognized one uninvited guest, a woman named Anna Casey. 

The meeting got off to a rocky start, with Casey asking pointed questions. Rawlings got it back on track for about eight minutes. At which point Casey interrupted, and the mayor abruptly bailed. “You people figure it out,” he said, walking out the door. 

If the home-rule effort fails, that’s the night the sweater came undone, and Casey, whether she wants it or not, will get credit for pulling the first thread. Which raises two questions: who the heck is Anna Casey, and how strong is her political kung fu?

Casey (née Villasana) is 53 and lives with her husband in the small Collin County town of Lavon, north of Rockwall. She is a political consultant with an intriguing client base. Her first win came in 1997, when she helped John Loza get elected to the Dallas City Council. Since then, she has been closely associated with the Medrano family, a name that over the years has appeared in headlines about vote fraud. In 2006, she spoke for school board candidate Adam Medrano when it was revealed that he’d evaded arrest in a police sting of homosexual activity in a Dillard’s men’s room. More recently, she ran Carlos Medrano’s 2010 campaign for justice of the peace. He won and was later convicted, on a felony charge, of illegal voting. But Casey has also run the campaigns of former Councilwoman Angela Hunt and her successor, current Councilman Philip Kingston. 

Perhaps most curious is the number of victorious Casey candidates who refused to be quoted for this story. She plays rough, they said. But nothing for attribution.

Monica Greene isn’t so reticent. She ran for City Council in 2005 and lost to Pauline Medrano, a Casey candidate. “Candidates clearly choose to marry the devil in order to win,” she says. “I have never found a more negative, more aggressive person on the political scene in this city.”

Dan Wyde practices election law and represented defeated incumbent Luis Sepulveda in a civil case that arose from that bogus 2010 Carlos Medrano election. Wyde says, “She’s an insultant, not a consultant. She is hired to go out and malign people.”

Apprised of the foregoing sentiments, Casey laughs long and hard. Then she says, “I’m not surprised to learn that people would say bad things about me. It’s very hard to lose. And it’s very hard to get over. Nobody wants to think that they aren’t popular. It’s easier to create a villain.”

She says she was at that church on March 13 because she was going to dinner with two clients, Councilman Adam Medrano and school board trustee Miguel Solis, and they had suggested meeting there. As much as anything in Casey’s political life can be taken at face value, that explanation makes sense. 

The answer to the second question: her kung fu appears very strong indeed.