Councilman Casey Thomas will chair the mayor's new Workforce, Education, and Equity committee.

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Casey Thomas Faces Ethics Case Over Use of the VisitDallas Suite at AAC

The Councilman used the suite fives times in 2018.

Casey Thomas faces an ethics complaint over his use of VisitDallas’ American Airlines suite. The complaint, filed by a retired attorney, targets his failure to report the free tickets and continued participation in VisitDallas business.

The southern Dallas Councilman went to six events at the suite between 2016 and 2018, as we first reported back in July. The use of VisitDallas’ suite became a topic of discussion in February, when the organization’s then CEO Phillip Jones faced a Council committee over that blistering city audit. Scott Griggs, who was on the Council at the time, claimed that with so many events each year, VisitDallas didn’t have enough people to wine and dine, and the extra tickets spilled out to VisitDallas’ board, to its employees, and to Council members.

We went looking for a list of people who used the suite, particularly interested in the Council members. But the city was reluctant to give it up. It appealed to the Attorney General to keep the list under wraps but lost, and after a delay, it released the list in mid-July. On it were two Council members, only one of them current. Former West Dallas representative Monica Alonzo went to two events in 2017. Thomas went to five events in 2018 and another in 2016.

The Texas Monitor took it from there, discovering that Thomas had not reported his use of the suite on annual gift disclosures. This week, Thomas told the Monitor that the failure was on him and will be corrected on an amended disclosure. “My assistant provides that information and completes the report and it was not on there due to an oversight on my part,” he said. (Thomas declined to comment for this story.)

The ethics complaint is filed by Barry Jacobs, who is no stranger to the city’s ethics process. In 2017, he filed against then Councilman Philip Kingston after sleuthing out the fact that Kingston had been inside a city office while recording a campaign promotion. Kingston received a slap on the wrist.

Jacobs asserts not only that the tickets should’ve been reported on Thomas’ annual gift disclosures but that he acted improperly by continuing to participate in city business concerning VisitDallas:

On May 15, 2019, Councilman Thomas participated in a council briefing at which the recent audit of VisitDallas was considered, which participation was an official action. Councilman Thomas neither disclosed any economic interest in VisitDallas, nor recused himself from participating in that portion of the council briefing that concerned VisitDallas, nor filed a statement of conflict of interest with the City Secretary’s office regarding any conflict of interest with respect to VisitDallas.

Here’s the full complaint. A preliminary panel of the Ethics Advisory Commission will meet on Tuesday morning to determine whether it should move forward to an evidentiary hearing before the full commission.

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