Commission says Dallas council member violated ethics code by not reporting free VisitDallas tickets

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VisitDallas

The Dallas Ethics Advisory Commission said Tuesday that Dallas City Council member Casey Thomas violated the city’s ethics code when he did not disclose he had received more than $1,600 worth of event tickets from VisitDallas, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The ethics code states that city officials must file financial disclosure forms within a month of accepting any gift exceeding $250 in value. The commission unanimously agreed that Thomas didn’t accept the tickets in exchange for his votes on issues that might affect VisitDallas, the city’s tourism bureau.

Thomas received the lowest level of punishment that could be levied by the commission, which is to notify the city council of the violation. The Morning News reported that the council could issue a sanction, such as a letter of notification stating that the violation was unintentional and advising Thomas of actions he should take to avoid future incidents.

Prior to the commission’s action, Thomas said he would recuse himself from any votes pertaining to VisitDallas during the remainder of his term, the newspaper reported.

Thomas told the commission in a written statement that he didn’t solicit or ask for the concert tickets.

“I did not even know the value of the tickets when they were offered to me,” he wrote. “It was simply an oversight on my part.”

VisitDallas has faced its share of turmoil in the past year. The Texas Monitor reported last month that the departure of former chief financial officer Matthew Jones, portrayed in May as a resignation, was actually a termination.

Around the same time that Matthew Jones departed, VisitDallas CEO Phillip Jones (no relation) resigned shortly after a story by The Texas Monitor reported numerous instances of his official travel coinciding with endurance races in which he participated.

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