Rep. Eric Johnson to File Anti-Corruption Bill in Wake of Latest Dallas Bribery Scandal

Rep. Eric Johnson

Anti-Corruption Press Conference

March 4, 2019

Good afternoon and thank you all for being here.

I’m here to announce that I will be filing a bill this week to combat and hopefully eradicate corruption in the awarding of affordable housing tax credits.

Under current law, evidence of support from elected officials such as city council members and state representatives is used to help evaluate whether an affordable housing project should receive tax credits.

Unfortunately, some elected officials and developers seeking their favor have repeatedly abused their role in the affordable housing tax credit award process.

We saw it again last Friday, when a former Dallas City Councilwoman pleaded guilty to taking some $40,000 in bribes in exchange for her support of an affordable housing development. And, sadly, she is not the first elected official who has been caught trying to profit from their role in the affordable housing tax credit award process.

In fact, my predecessor in the Texas House went to prison for tax evasion related to bribes she received in connection with the awarding of affordable housing tax credits.

That’s one reason why I have worked with members of both parties to champion ethics reform during my time here in the Legislature, including the effort to prohibit state legislators from receiving taxpayer-funded pensions if they were convicted of crimes related to public corruption that I led as a freshman.

And once again I’m ready to work with all of my colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – to pass additional ethics reforms.

The affordable housing tax credit has become the mother’s milk of political corruption in Dallas.

It needs to be reformed…swiftly and comprehensively.

Now let me be very clear: We need affordable housing in Dallas. But not like this.

I am going to file a bill this week to remove all elected officials – whether they serve at the state, county or city level – from the affordable housing tax credit award process.

My bill will put the award process back into the hands of the people by removing elected officials from the scoring system. Only support from community organizations and neighborhood associations would be scored under my bill.

It’s a shame that some elected officials cannot resist the temptation to abuse the public trust in order to enrich themselves. But since they cannot, we must remove that temptation when it comes to Texas’ affordable housing tax credit program.

It’s past time to end the corruption that surrounds affordable housing tax credits. And right now, while the Texas Legislature is in session, is the perfect time to enact these long overdue reforms.

I am grateful to Speaker Bonnen for the opportunity to serve on the House Urban Affairs Committee and to work closely with the members of this committee on this important issue. I believe we will have broad support for this legislation because fighting corruption is not a partisan issue: It’s about doing what’s right for the State of Texas.

I am especially grateful that the Chairwoman of the House Urban Affairs Committee and my fellow legislator from Dallas County, Representative Angie Chen Button, is here to voice her support for ending this particular form of corruption.

And so now I will turn it over to Chairwoman Button and again I say, “Thank you, Chairwoman,” for your commitment to fighting corruption and to promoting integrity in public service.

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