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Did Rep. Stefani Carter Use a House Resolution To Commend Her Boyfriend?

Man, I really didn’t want to put up this post. It’s a silly matter about the love life of a politician. There are so many more important things I should be doing right now (practicing my pronunciation of Doualy Xaykaothao’s name, combing the internet for gossip about tomorrow night’s episode of Courtney Loves Dallas). But put up this post I must. Because Rep. Stefani Carter has called my hand.

Awhile back, I wrote about a guy named Sam Brown and the race for the District 102 seat in the House, which Stefani Carter gave up to run for railroad commissioner. Except then she decided she didn’t want to be railroad commissioner after all and that she wanted to keep her District 102 spot. The primary is March 4. Anyway, someone who read that story sent me a tip. This person, who has given me solid tips in the past, told me that Carter sponsored a House resolution to issue an official commendation for a guy she was dating named Kris Butler. This tipster had a very good reason to believe that Carter and Butler were dating, but I can’t tell you that reason, because it would reveal the tipster’s identity.

Here is House Resolution 750, commending Kris Butler. In part, it thanks him “for serving as a volunteer for House District 102 and extend[s] to this public-spirited individual sincere best wishes for the future.” The resolution passed way back in March 2013.

Butler works in business development at ICC Energy Corporation, which, according to its website, is one of the largest minority-owned energy marketing companies in Texas. I don’t know how long he has worked there. He didn’t respond to my call or email. Therefore, I also don’t know when he volunteered for House District 102 or what the volunteer work consisted of. But from looking at filings with the Texas Ethics Commission, I do know that between November 2010 and January 2013, Butler was paid $9,300 by the Carter campaign, mostly for “campaign services” and work with yard sign distribution.

So to me, if I believe my tipster, it looks like Carter was paying her boyfriend to work on her campaign and that he did such a good job that she had her colleagues in the House issue an official high-five. Nothing illegal about any of that, mind you. It’s just kind of — well, it’s funny.

As I say, I called and emailed Butler. I also called Carter’s office. I told them exactly why I was calling. I said I’d gotten a tip that Butler and Carter were dating and that I wanted to know about the timing of their relationship and House Resolution 750. In response, I got an email from Carter. Here is the exchange that followed on January 9:

Tim,

Thanks for your call. As anyone can easily see online, I honored around 20 people for their hard work and dedication to our community. Kris Butler was one of them. If you would like a full list of the numerous people whom I honored, my office would be happy to provide it to you.

Best regards,
Stefani Carter

Thanks for your response, Stefani. You’ll forgive me for pressing, though.

I’m sure your office told you that the specific question I have about Kris Butler is whether you two are in a relationship. Normally, I wouldn’t ask such a personal question. None of my business or anyone else’s. Except for HR 750 and the fact that Kris received payments from your campaign, from what I can tell, from 2010 through early 2013. So if you are dating Kris (or if you HAVE dated him), I would respectfully ask when the relationship began.

As for the other 19 or so people whom you honored, I’m sure they all deserved it.

Thank you in advance for your prompt response to my follow-up questions. I’d like to publish my post about this matter (if, indeed, a post is warranted) by the end of the day. If you’d prefer to talk on the phone, my direct dial is [redacted].

Tim: You’re welcome. Kris is a personal friend. Like many of my personal friends, he has been helpful to me since I first sought election. Best regards, Stefani

Stefani:

If you weren’t dating him, you would have said, “We are not dating.” So you must realize how I am forced to interpret your note. But I give you points for equivocation. That’s gotta be Harvard training, right? [She got her law degree from Harvard.]

Ha! We are not dating; that is correct.

Sent from my iPhone

THAT is a direct answer. Many thanks.

So I’ll press my luck: you’re not dating him now, but you DID. Correct?

At that point, Carter went silent on me. I went on about my business. I got my head shaved for a salons package we’re working on. Important stuff like that. Then I thought, “You know, I never heard back from Stefani Carter. I really shouldn’t let her off the hook like that.” So, on January 13, I sent her two more emails, the first in the morning and the second one in the afternoon:

I am to take it that my last question will go unanswered?

Again I asked: you’re not dating him now, but you DID. Correct?

Stefani:

Your lack of response gives me two choices:

1. Give up on this silly matter and move on to more important things. In which case, I lose this exchange and succumb to your stonewalling.

2. Go ahead and post something vague on our blog that calls into question the timing of what I believe was a romantic relationship and your payments to Kris and HR 750, citing only your emails to me and your reluctance to be more specific (plus his non-response to a call and email).

Here’s the thing: I don’t like to lose. Nor do I like to be vague. However, the result of my going with option No. 2 will be that — either in the comments to my post or later, down the road — the precise truth will eventually be revealed.

You can probably guess which option I’m leaning toward. Care to reconsider? Shall we chat on the phone?

Which is how we got to this point. I apologize. And to Kris Butler: I’m sorry things between you and Rep. Carter didn’t work out. But you’ll always have that framed copy of House Resolution 750, right?

Update (1/16/14): As it turns out, this is the second time Rep. Stefani Carter has passed a resolution commending Kris Butler for his work on her campaign.

28 comments on “Did Rep. Stefani Carter Use a House Resolution To Commend Her Boyfriend?

  1. I think it’s good when the media police politicians who do bad things. But what bad thing is happening here? Maybe it would have been better to not post this story at all.

  2. I didn’t say it was bad. I said it was funny. Not ha-ha funny. But funny, like: paying the guy good dough to hammer yard signs wasn’t enough? A resolution was needed, too?

  3. You’re right. There are so many other things you should be writing about. This is frivolous, even for you. Not sure how this is relevant to anyone. Someone did work for her campaign and she passed a resolution thanking him for it?

    You’re a great writer, but reporting just may not be your thing. This isn’t news.

  4. There have been a lot of members of the media who have questioned why federal lawmakers employ their family members on the campaign staff. Tom DeLay’s daughter was often called into question – just one example.

    But a campaign is a campaign. If Stefani pays the guy for campaign services, then I guess he delivered campaign services. Not a story.

    I’m not slamming Tim Rogers. I like the work that the “new media” outlets like D Magazine, Politico, and Texas Tribune produce. It’s great.

  5. I am proud to be the frivolity standard against which all other frivolity is measured. I’m like LEED-platinum frivolous.

    I do take issue with one point. This post is very relevant to Kris Butler.

  6. The minute she uses public resources to obtain a public endorsement for someone, it becomes a matter of legitimate public inquiry.

  7. Why is she wasting time on worthless resolutions? Schools, roads, infrastructure, crime — don’t we have other issues she should be focusing on?

  8. It is possible that while he was trafficking in energy AND hammering in yard signs he was also bringing hot meals to shut-ins and whitewashing graffiti.

  9. Joe hit the nail on the head. Like many politicians, Ms. Carter pledges “Reduced Government Spending” (http://www.carterfortexas.com/issues/), yet here she is, spending Texas tax money on useless vanity resolutions. What did this resolution cost the State of Texas? In total, I’d swag perhaps $500 – $1000 including the printing time, printing cost, voting time, etc… Not a lot, but it shows that she can’t walk the talk.

  10. Legislators often address the body about resolutions, and it usually involves a constituent they know. It might even be a resolution honoring the 40th wedding anniversary of their own parents, seated up in the gallery. Everyone claps and it passes unanimously. Since major bills spend much of the five month session wading through various committees, these resolutions don’t take time away from schools, roads, infrastructure, crime, etc. They’re innocuous, like palate cleansers between courses at a nice restaurant.

    That said, there is a salient point in Tim’s blog entry. State rep. Stefani Carter got the body to approve a resolution to a community “volunteer” who really wasn’t, which cheapens resolutions honoring true community volunteers. This guy was paid by her campaign, something the resolution says nothing about. He was apparently involved with her personally, something the resolution also says nothing about.

    It’s not a crime. It may not even be a reason to vote against her, but it should be marked, noted and inwardly digested by voters in her district, who can assign it whatever value they wish.

  11. This blog entry is a total waste of time that I will never get back. Tim, please hand me my two minutes back, and write something worthwhile in the future. I know you can write worthwhile stories, because I have read them. Mama taught you better, dude.

  12. This is insulting stuff. Memorial resolutions are passed all the time for little frivilous things. It’s not a payoff or something like that. It’s a little piece of paper. So all you’re doing is harassing a young black woman about who she’s dated. Bad form.

  13. Resolutions are indeed frivolous personal favors, but openly so. They aren’t deceitful. Stefani’s colleagues were unaware that the so-called community “volunteer” being honored was one of her own paid campaign workers with whom she was apparently involved. If the resolution had been truthful, she wouldn’t have offered it in the first place. That’s my measuring stick.

  14. We know whose in charge in that relationship. Poor fella! I guess what she did wasn’t really wrong it’s just kind of shady. Iv’e always thought she was a nice person when I’ve met her but there was always something there like almost she was just telling the crowd at the time what they wanted to here. I don’t know could be nothing.

  15. Regarding the 19 deserving people, why can’t Representatives go to Hallmark like everyone else? These resolutions should be voted against regardless of why the recognition for the cause of taxpayer stewardship.

  16. I know it’s kind of disgusting, but I heard that her opponent Lynda Koop was sleeping with her consultant (I think it was Craig Murphy?) five or six years ago. I hope a story is posted about that because she thanked him publicly, from her council chambers, for his help. By the way, your style of journalism is unprofessional, and I was surprised you even posted your exchange with Stephanie Carter. Sort of rude to her, don’t you think?

  17. my post was deleted. TIM, you are an UNPROFESSIONAL quasi-journalist and RUDE to this poor girl! you should be ashamed of yourself.

  18. You’re right. A public official, when corresponding with a journalist (though I use that term loosely) should expect her words to be private. Certainly.

    Also, you forgot to bring race into the conversation. But I love you, and I forgive you.

  19. Peter, the state rep’s first name is Stefani (as in Gwen’s last name), not Stephanie as you wrote. When defending another, getting their name right would seem to matter. “Sort of rude to her, don’t you think?”

  20. Wow you really had NOTHING better to write about, did you? For anyone who doesn’t know what House Resolutions are in Tx, here is the short story: Representatives use HR’s to honor anyone from retired police officers in their districts to little boys who save cats from trees. At the end of every session, most Representatives honor their staff members; sometimes they honor their spouses or family members. They don’t mean much; they just make the recipient feel a little better about themselves. Whether or not the “allegations” are true, this is a ridiculous story written by someone who clearly has some strange obsession with Stefani Carter.

  21. I’m shocked to find this in frontburner, which is more or less an arm of the Dallas County Republican Party. Maybe just an attempt to give Sam Brown a lift with this piece? I’ve got to wonder but I love the infighting of a party struggling to survive around here.