DALLAS (AP) - Watchdog groups have questions about prizes
sponsored by major companies and a defense attorney for staff of
the Dallas District Attorney's Office.
Dallas television station KDFW reports the gifts included luxury
suite tickets to a Cowboy's game, round trip flight tickets to
anywhere in the U.S. from American Airlines, several hundred
dollars worth of gift cards and other items.
Members of the district attorney's staff asked for the gifts.
They were given away at a staff party thrown for Dallas County
District Attorney Craig Watkins' first Christmas in office.
Public servants in Texas are not allowed to ask for or accept
gifts from someone subject to an investigation.
Public Citizen director Tom "Smitty" Smith says the statute
was designed to prevent the appearance of impropriety he sees in
But the district attorney says no laws were broken. That's
because of an exemption allowing gifts when a relationship
independent of the official status exists. In this case, Watkins
says the staff simply asked friends for prizes.
The television station found prize requests printed on official
county letterhead. The letters promised interaction with District
Attorney Craig Watkins.
Craig McDonald, executive director of Texans for Public Justice,
says that looks like they're selling access to the staff and office
of the District Attorney.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)