DALLAS – The Republican race to replace a Dallas County Commissioner took an unexpected turn Wednesday night.
Stephen Stanley, a former Garland councilman, said one of his competitors – J.J. Koch – offered to pay off his campaign debts if he got out of the race.
Stanley said the offer happened on a 15-minute phone call last October, which he recorded and just recently turned over to the Ethics Commission at the Texas Secretary of State’s office.
“He called to try to say that he wasn’t doing anything. He wanted to dispel some of the rumors. That’s when he made the offer initially,” Stanley told WFAA on Wednesday night.
WFAA obtained a copy of the 15-minute phone call and a transcript of the recording.
“If you have any debts incurred by the campaign, I’m happy to write a check for them,” Koch said on the recording.
“I’m good,” Stanley responded on the recording. “You know, I appreciate the offer to pay off debt and all that kind of good stuff but I’m – I’m in this for the long haul.”
Both men are running in the Republican primary to replace outgoing Dallas County Commissioner Mike Cantrell, who represented District 2. Both men had also declared their candidacies at the time of the conversation.
“This is Stanley trying to get his name in the media. It’s a non-starter. J.J. did nothing wrong. No numeric value was ever discussed,” said Pete Schulte, who represents Koch.
Schulte identified Koch’s voice on the recording but dismissed that his client did anything illegal.
“I can try to speculate what Mr. Stanley’s motivations are. Mr. Koch did not do anything wrong in regards to this conversation. Any suggestion is ridiculous. If there had been an agreement and Mr. Koch agreed to pay off that debt, it would have been political contributions allowable within the law,” Schulte continued.
Schulte added that “even if there had been an agreement, it would have been political contributions allowable within the law.”
Stanley said he plans to reveal more at a 1:30 p.m. news conference on Thursday in Dallas.