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Dallas DA candidate under scrutiny
Friday, October 6, 2006

by CHRIS HEINBAUGH / WFAA-TV
 

The Democratic candidate for Dallas District Attorney is trying to focus the race on the issues he thinks are important. Lawyer Craig Watkins wants to bring a fresh approach to the office, to shake things up. But baggage continues to weigh him down.

Four years ago, Craig Watkins came from nowhere, and almost defeated the incumbent DA. This time, he's getting more scrutiny.

Like his history of troubled finances.

Individuals, companies, even the city of Dallas have had to take Watkins to court, just to get paid. Including the District Attorney's office, the very office he wishes to lead.

In 2000, Watkins, a defense lawyer, had a contract with the DA to buy the names of jail inmates, potential clients. But he got behind $7,675.

In 2004, the District Attorney had to sue him, before he paid up.

?I would ask voters of this county to look at me for who I am, and not any civil disputes that I've had in the past,? says Watkins. ?They don't have anything to do with this race.?

But he also has a history of late state and federal business taxes, over several years, liens had to be filed to press Watkins to pay. And recently, the IRS filed license for back personal income tax, 3 years worth, $99,000.

Just before February's primary Watkins insisted it was old news. ?All of them have been paid, All of those issues have been resolved,? he said.

Nine months later the liens are still in place and Watkins provided no proof to the contrary.

?I've had the courage to stand up to the IRS, and fight them,? said Watkins at a debate Thursday night. ?And I'm going to have the courage to stand up for the citizens of Dallas County that perpetrate against you.?

The DA's office has 400 lawyers and staff and a budget of $34 million.

His opponent, Republican Toby Shook, says fiscal responsibility matters. ?Obviously the District Attorney has to be someone of integrity,? says Shook. ?Someone that uses very good judgment, sound judgment, in these matters. I think that's going to be important for voters.?

Another issue drawing attention: Watkins approach to the law. His DWI defense site says: "The key in picking a jury is to find people who believe it is alright to have a drink and then drive.?

His felony defense site says: "I enjoy manipulating the Government."

Shook is troubled by that attitude towards the law. Watkins says, he'll be just as aggressive as the people's prosecutor.

                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8