Aug 25, 2005 9:00 pm US/Central
by Robert Riggs
and Todd Bensman, The Investigators,
Who owns the luxury cars you?re driving? That?s a question made infamous by the
repeated evasions of Dallas Mayor Pro-Tem Don Hill and his Plan Commission
appointee D?Angelo Lee since June, when the FBI searched the cars they were
driving but did not own.
Now a new question has surfaced that another elected leader caught up in the
FBI's bribery investigation at City Hall won?t answer: Who pays your rent?
As CBS-11 reported Wednesday night, State Rep. Terri Hodge has been living in a
$900 a month apartment built by Brian Potashnik?s Southwest Housing, a company
at the center of an FBI bribery, extortion and money laundering probe of an
affordable housing boom in southern Dallas. Rep. Hodge?s name surfaced for the
first time Wednesday in an FBI subpoena of City Hall records related to the
bureau?s investigation of Potashnik?s affordable housing company.
But Hodge refused Wednesday to address CBS-11?s report about her political and
financial ties to Potashnik, including the fact that she is living in one of the
very affordable housing projects now under FBI investigation.
Rep. Hodge?s living arrangement in Potashnik?s Rosemont at Arlington Park raised
questions about who pays her rent, given other CBS-11 News reports that she has
used her legislative position to advocate politically for approvals of that and
other taxpayer-financed Potashnik developments, and served on the board of a
non-profit organization that Potashnik created to provide social services in 35
of his developments. Rep. Hodge, with a bankruptcy on her record, currently has
more than $150,000 in federal tax liens pending against her, records show.
On Thursday, CBS-1 1?s Robert Riggs and Todd Bensman found Rep. Hodge in her
Swiss Avenue offices and sought comment about her appearance in the FBI subpoena
and asked her to assure constituents that she pays her own rent. Rep. Hodge,
known as a fiery orator rarely at a loss for words, fell silent for 21 seconds.
She took her glasses off and nervously shuffled papers on her desk, among them a
copy of CBS-11?s report about her work on behalf of Potashnik and her apartment
in his development.
Finally, she answered, in part: ?This is your story?and sir, you are telling
this story, and I saw it last night, and I was a bit amazed,? she said. ?Let me
say to you?I have no comments for you today.?
Riggs asked Rep. Hodge: ?The important question is, do you pay the rent? Do you
pay the monthly rent? Is there a personal check from Terri Hodge paying the rent
at the Potashnik development where you live??
?Mr. Riggs, let me say this to you, sir, as best I know how,? Rep. Hodge
replied. ?Sir, I have no comment. I am sitting here doing my job, and today
that?s all I?m going to do.?
Riggs persisted, asking: ?That?s an easy question, though, if you pay your own
After another extended silence, Rep. Hodge finally replied: ?I don?t have any
comment at all about any of this. None.?
Potashnik?s company, Southwest Housing, has declined to say who pays Hodge?s
rent, citing privacy concerns.
CBS-11 has learned that Rep. Hodge, a four-term legislator who represents
District 100, approached Potashnik?s company for an apartment at about the time
the state legislature changed her district?s boundaries. State election law
requires that legislative candidates maintain a residence inside their district
for at least six months prior to the election.
Rep. Hodge owns an approximately $200,000 home outside the district in central
Dallas. The Rosemont at Arlington complex is within the new boundaries of
State housing records show that Hodge is not living in one of the 100-unit
complex ?s rent-regulated units reserved for tenants who must demonstrate their
low income. She is living in one of the complex?s 25 ?market rate? units, which
records show cost about $900 a month.
Rep. Hodge?s refusal to assure constituents that she pays her own is reminiscent
of lingering unanswered questions surrounding luxury cars being driven by two
Dallas officials. Mayor Pro-Tem Don Hill and his Plan Commission appointee, both
of whom are persons of interest in the FBI investigation, have refused to say
where they got cars not listed as gifts on financial disclosure statements.
To comment about this story, email Robert
Riggs or Todd Bensman