You see the downfall of politicians all the time. Whether it be graft, having an affair, cheating the stock market or getting caught in a whopper of a lie. It’s become commonplace in American politics for these people to get their fifteen minutes of infamy and more than their share of headlines. Weekly, if not daily, we are treated to a never-ending stream of drama via the media because it is newsworthy. And as long as it is reported on factually without bias, that is their job and it is something all of us need to pay attention to. But every once in a while, someone really gets caught big time with their paw in the cookie jar. This week’s star is on the left and from Texas.
Last Thursday, Dwaine Caraway (D-TX), who is a Dallas city council member and the mayor pro tem, pled guilty to taking over $450,000 in kickbacks and bribes. That’s the other way of making money in politics. He is the second-highest-ranking elected official in Dallas. The announcement came from U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. He stated that Caraway received funds “in the form of a phony consulting agreement, luxury suits, fully funded trips, gambling money, repayment of personal debt, checks and cash” from businessman Robert Leonard. Someone’s been a very bad politician.
This guy evidently supported “key votes to promote and continue” a program placing cameras on school buses; that program was connected to Leonard, who owned the stop-arm camera company that took millions from the Dallas County Schools, as the Dallas Morning News reported. Cox also said that Leonard pled guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Wow… that’s a lot of charges stacking up there. I would bet that Caraway is going away for a very long time. It’s certainly the end of his political career.
U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox is joined by the FBI and the IRS in a press conference announcing the guilty pleas of Dallas City Council Member Dwaine Carway and President of Force Multiplier Solutions Robert Leonard in a bribery conspiracy.https://t.co/GsDHaZcGGn pic.twitter.com/AzLQ1cwbl7
— US Attorney N. Texas (@NDTXnews) August 9, 2018
Cox stated, “The pleas today represent the meticulous and tireless efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the dedicated prosecutors of our office. These cases demonstrate our continued resolve to uncover corruption at the highest levels — the citizens of Dallas deserve honest government.” Yes, they do… but may I point out they should have vetted their leadership a bit better and they should have been more selective when voting.
Caraway has now resigned from his seat on the council. He stated in his resignation letter that: “Over the past several weeks, through a lot of prayer and soul searching, I have decided that I must take responsibility for my actions. I have dedicated much of my life to serving others, but have never claimed to be without sin. I am truly sorry that I must end my career as an elected official because I betrayed the public’s trust that I worked so very hard to earn.” Funny how in the end the faith card is always thrown. Usually by those who have little to no faith by the way. Caraway is 66-years-old.
From The Dallas Morning News:
“Caraway, a longtime council member from Oak Cliff who grew up and still lives near Cedar Crest Golf Course, admitted to prosecutors that the $390,000 he took from Leonard for “real estate consulting” was “excessive.” Court documents show that “Caraway knew that some of the money was to secure his political influence due to his position” as a council member.
“Caraway acknowledged taking that money to “further Leonard’s business interests.” He did that by attempting to persuade the council to vote in support of Leonard’s firm Force Multiplier Solutions, the school bus camera company.
“‘Early on, Caraway told Leonard that he supported the stop-arm program and asked Leonard to make political contributions,” according to court documents. “Leonard made these contributions because Caraway asked and knew that Caraway supported” the program.
“According to Leonard’s factual resume, entered with his plea agreement, Caraway made it clear he could be influenced. At one point, Leonard said, Caraway told him, “I am the City Council.'”
It seems that many times it is almost impossible for those elected to seats of power to keep their hands clean and just do what they were elected to do. You would think it was a no-brainer. Not so much. Hubris and arrogance are fatal sins for politicians and Caraway just found that out the hard way.
Attorney Michael Payma, who is representing Caraway, told The Associated Press that the court documents speak for themselves. He said Caraway must still be sentenced, and he declined to comment further. The investigation was carried out by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). Caraway is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 14 and faces seven years in federal prison under his agreement. Leonard also pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge. Court documents filed Thursday show Leonard cut his deal with federal prosecutors in June. Caraway’s plea agreement was signed Aug. 2. According to the plea agreement, if the court accepts the deal cut with federal prosecutors, Caraway will agree to pay a six-figure fine, as well as almost $69,000 owed to the Internal Revenue Service.
In his plea agreements, also filed Thursday, Leonard admitted to paying former DCS Superintendent Rick Sorrells over $3 million in bribes and kickbacks — “including $200,000 toward Sorrells’ credit card and student loan debt through a bank account opened in the name of a nonexistent entity.” Sorrells and Swartwood have already pleaded guilty to federal charges in the case.
So ends another political career and hopefully, the good citizens of Dallas will find someone less corruptible to replace Caraway.