Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s campaign manager is under criminal scrutiny, suspected of stealing at least $600,000 — and possibly more than $1 million — from the Republican’s political accounts over the past several years.
Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield, a longtime GOP consultant who most recently managed Dewhurst’s failed run for the U.S. Senate, has been accused of falsifying documents to the Texas Ethics Commission that overstated the cash in Dewhurst’s state campaign committee by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Barfield, who also directed Dewhurst’s re-election campaign for lieutenant governor in 2010, did not return calls to his cellphone Thursday.
The original reports, examined by The Dallas Morning News, allegedly allowed Barfield to conceal huge sums of money taken from the David Dewhurst Committee since 2008 until Dewhurst associates discovered the improprieties this month.
After Dewhurst and his top aides confronted him, Barfield offered to repay the money — but was unable to do so, one campaign official said. Officials then alerted the Travis County district attorney’s office on Dec. 20, asked for an investigation and submitted revised reports to the ethics commission.
The alleged scheme went undetected, largely because Barfield, in his high-ranking role, had access to the committee’s bank accounts and little oversight from others, said campaign officials who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.
They said Barfield concealed illicit transactions by submitting false financial reports to the Dewhurst campaign, including fake bank deposit slips and fraudulent invoices to the campaign for services that were never rendered by him or one of his consulting companies.
For example, one of his companies handled media buys for the campaign, which spent millions of dollars on TV commercials for the lieutenant governor’s race.
A day after contacting Travis County prosecutors, the Dewhurst campaign committee filed 11 amended finance reports with the ethics commission, spelling out the accusations and providing some details on the missing money as well as correcting totals in reports for the past five years.
Up to a million dollars may be at issue here. I’ll keep an eye on this, as I’m sure it will be a rather unwelcome distraction for Dewhurst during the session and his upcoming primary race. To be honest, I’m a little surprised there haven’t been more such allegations. Given the huge amounts of money spent in this past election, the secrecy involved with a lot of big-dollar PACs, and the wildly varying rates that can be charged for things like TV ad buys, it’s not hard to imagine grifters of various stripe seeing lots of opportunity in this kind of work. I have a feeling Dewhurst will have some company, inside and outside Texas, any time now. The Trib, which has another excellent photo of The Dew, TPM, and Juanita have more.