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:
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.
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
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?
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.