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Local Government

Meet the Shadowy Super PAC Behind the Attack Campaign on Philip Kingston

The woman who helped get Mike Rawlings into office is behind a PAC that has its sights set on the outspoken incumbent.

For Our Community, the political action committee run by the woman who helped get Mike Rawlings elected mayor, is doing its best to paint incumbent Councilman Philip Kingston as an ineffective bully. That’s the “disturbing truth” in the lengthy URL of its new attack ad campaign, disturbingtruthaboutphilip.com, which proclaims that Kingston is “unfit to serve our community” due, presumably, to his “track record of contempt, disdain, and outright bullying as a Dallas City Councilman.” It then offers three quotes, excerpted from council minutes and news reports, as proof.

For Our Community is overseen by Mari Woodlief, the Allyn Media chief and political consultant to the local stars who, in addition to Rawlings’ race, was responsible for Susan Hawk’s election to district attorney. According to a campaign finance report filed with the state on March 2, it has $189,150.34 to spend how it pleases, so long as it doesn’t coordinate with a political campaign. Its largest donors, who gave $25,000 each, include Jack Matthews, the president of real estate firm Matthews Southwest; Jere Thompson Jr., the CEO of Ambit Energy; John Scovell, the head of Woodbine Development Corp.; Mike Terry, the president of M. Terry Enterprises; and Deedie Rose, widow of the investor Rusty Rose. John Tolleson, the CEO of Tolleson Wealth Management, gave the PAC $20,000. Oil heir Al Hill III threw in $10,000.

For comparison’s sake, Coalition for a New Dallas, the super PAC founded by D Magazine owner and publisher Wick Allison, reported raising $34,806.64 through January 1, 2017. (Cash on hand: $210.) Kingston’s most serious opponent is East Dallas lawyer Matt Wood, who has the support of folks like former mayor Ron Kirk and Parks Board Chair Bobby Abtahi. Woodlief hasn’t responded to requests for comment. But Wood’s camp decried the ad. Campaign manager Mark Melton emphasized that “we had absolutely nothing to do with the creation nor implementation of that website.”

“We’re trying to run a positive campaign here that focuses on what Matt brings to the table,” Melton said. “We certainly don’t approve of the general mudslinging and the tenor and tone of that campaign. We think Matt’s experience and the positive qualities he brings to the table in terms of civility and collaboration will speak for themselves on election day.”

For Our Community doesn’t have a website, and the font noting that it’s responsible for the attack ad campaign is as small as you’d expect. The PAC has sent out targeted mailers with much of the same information as contained on the website. There’s a video and a Facebook page. Several political experts in town say it’s rare to see a PAC target an incumbent council member with such force.

Kingston is one of the most outspoken people around the horseshoe. He’s supported opponents running against his colleagues, as is the case in the District 6 race. Kingston favors Omar Narvaez over incumbent Monica Alonzo and has campaigned on his behalf, going so far as to call D6 under Alonzo’s reign “the district of the damned.” He’s fought hard to kill the Trinity Toll Road and is a constant thorn in the mayor’s side. Kingston didn’t respond to a message requesting comment, but he has tweeted about the campaign being at the hands of the mayor “and his check writing friends.”

Nevertheless, here’s the video; make sure to stay until the end for a muffled, repeated fade-out of Kingston telling the mayor to “pipe down.”