DALLAS (AP) - As a city councilwoman in Fort Worth, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis did not always recuse herself from votes that potentially overlapped with her private business interests, according to a newspaper investigation published Sunday.
The Dallas Morning News reported (https://bit.ly/1ANn98q ) that Davis voted in a small number of instances on bills affecting companies that acquired title insurance from companies she owned or for which she worked.
In one 2006 case, she joined a unanimous vote to approve $21.5 million in tax incentives for developers of a downtown Fort Worth hotel. By then, Wendy and Jeff Davis had sold their title insurance company to a national chain. As part of the deal, she was named chief executive of the Fort Worth division of a chain affiliate, called Republic Title of Texas.
Republic Title of Texas was listed on the deed transferring the hotel to a California-based company. It’s not clear how much the company made in the transaction.
Davis’ campaign stressed that she consulted with the Fort Worth city attorney to avoid any conflicts and, at the attorney’s advice, she had her salary at Republic Title changed to not gain any commissions.
Fort Worth council members are not prohibited from doing private work with businesses with interests before the city.
The campaign also said Davis had recused herself from several other votes that could have raised conflicts.
Wendy Davis became a part-owner of her ex-husband’s title business in 1999, according to her law firm biography. She first reported receiving salary from the business, known as Safeco, in 2003.
When Fort Worth-based RadioShack moved its headquarters within the city in 2002, Safeco helped RadioShack close a $34 million sale of a downtown technology center to Tarrant County. RadioShack paid a nearly $134,000 title insurance premium in the deal, the newspaper reported.
Two months after the sale, Davis joined a city council vote approving a package of incentives for RadioShack for its new headquarters.
Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas said Davis’ title company did not have a “substantial interest” in the deal she voted on, and that she followed the guidance of the city attorney.
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com
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