Council members Scott Griggs and Omar Narvaez say they will donate the $4,000 each of their campaigns were given in 2017 by the young children of a lawyer and former judge.
Earlier this week, our Tim Rogers found campaign contributions to Narvaez, Griggs, and Councilman Philip Kingston under the names of Alexandra, Luke, Eric, and Caroline Stanton. They’re the four kids of James Stanton, a politically active attorney and Rick Perry-era appointee to the bench. He lost his re-election campaign to a Democrat in 2010. James Stanton gave $1,000 to each of those three candidates, which is the most you can give a candidate running for City Council. Then his kids, ages 5 to 11, tossed in another $1,000 each to Griggs and Narvaez. Luke, Alexandra, and Eric gave $1,000 to Kingston; Caroline sat that one out.
As Tim wrote, this isn’t illegal. All three of the council members have noted that. But it is ethically dubious. Here’s Tim from earlier in the week:
Here are the federal guidelines for minors making political contributions. In short, the money has to be given knowingly and voluntarily by the kid. The kid has to actually own the money. And the contribution can’t be made using money that was given to the kid as a gift for the purpose of making the contribution.
Griggs told Dallas Morning News editorial writer Rudy Bush that he’d be giving the money back. Which got us curious—presumably, that would mean having to write a check to the owner of a bank account. Did those kids have bank accounts? And, if so, wouldn’t their father be the account’s controller? In a phone call this morning, Griggs said that he had a chat with the Stanton family last night and they declined to accept the money. So he’s donating it. He hasn’t decided where, but probably to an organization “associated with registering voters.”
In a Facebook post, Griggs said he “didn’t realize the 2017 campaign contributions from the Stanton family were from young children. Had I known, I wouldn’t have accepted. And while these contributions were legal, I am donating the campaign contributions to a good cause because they don’t meet the high ethical standards I have always held as an elected official.”
Narvaez, meanwhile, told the News, “I have decided to return their contributions even though they are not illegal because I don’t want to see these wonderful children used a political football any longer.”
In a Facebook post, Narvaez, too, says he’ll be donating the money to “non-profit organizations that focus on getting out the young adult vote in honor of these four amazing youth.” Kingston hasn’t responded about what he’s doing with the $3,000 the kids gave him.
In apparently avoiding his children becoming more of a “political football,” Papa Stanton put up a picture on Facebook with the kids and the three public officials this morning. It came with a note, detailing the kids’ visits to City Hall; Washington, D.C.; and even Normandy. “We hear somebody said we were ‘the most politically active children in Dallas.’ We might be.”