Rawlings' South Dallas campaign expenditures scrutinized

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on July 13, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 14 at 3:39 PM

DALLAS — New questions are surfacing about one of the apparent targets of the FBI investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

The questions surround Price's ally and political consultant Kathy Nealy. At issue: The amount of money paid to Nealy by new Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings during his campaign.

Some in the consulting business say the dollars and the duties performed don't appear to add up.

Over the course of four months, the Rawlings campaign paid Kathy Nealy $270,000 to help run his campaign in South Dallas. Yet when we asked Rawlings two weeks ago exactly what she did for that money, he said: "She got me elected."

When we asked the Rawlings campaign for any receipts submitted by Nealy, we were told those records were in the possession of the FBI. The campaign did release a breakdown of Nealy's expenditures and where the $270,000 was spent.

Political consultant Lorlee Bartos ran a successful Dallas City Council race this spring. She says she's puzzled by claims that Nealy spent $65,000 on laborers distributing 100,000 fliers to targeted homes in South Dallas.

"That must be every door, because there are only about 75,000 houses in the entire city that have a history of voting in a City Council race... that's the entire city," Bartos said.

Civic leader Betty Culbreath — who has consulted on several political campaigns in southern Dallas — agrees that the amount paid to Nealy appears to be out of line with what it takes to run a typical a campaign in that sector of the city.

Of the 244,436 registered voters in the area worked by Nealy, 11,002, or 4.5 percent, voted for Rawlings in the May 14 election.

"The amount of people who voted versus the amount of money that was spent was low," Culbreath said. "The turnout was low in the target area for that amount of money."

Another puzzling number, according to consultants, is the $50,000 paid to Nealy for her workers to make 80,000 phone bank calls to targeted homes.

"That's a lot of money for a phone bank," Bartos said. "If there's only 66,000 targeted phones in the entire city, there's less than half of that in the southern sector."

Bartos also said she's confused by the reported figure of $15,000 for Rawlings to gain the endorsement of some southern sector pastors and other community leaders.

"The candidate sits through a service and the minister will say, 'Our good friend so-and-so is here and he's running for mayor,'" Bartos said. "That shouldn't cost anyone any money."

The consultant hired by Rawlings to do the same job as Nealy, only in North, East and West Dallas — Jeff Dalton of Democracy Toolbox — was paid $60,000.

Rawlings' chief campaign strategist Mari Woodlief of Allyn Media defends the money paid to Nealy.

"We were down three or four-to-one in South Dallas, and we made that deficit up," Woodlief said. "It had a lot to do with the phone calls and walking organized by Kathy. She did the job she was hired to do, and whatever this FBI thing is, it's separate from our campaign."

Woodlief says it's her belief that federal agents have possession of Nealy's campaign records, which makes it impossible for News 8 to see exactly how the $270,0000 was spent.

Nealy is not accused of committing a crime.

Her attorney has not returned our phone calls for a response.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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