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Kenneth Barfield

Feds get involved in Dewhurst campaign embezzlement case

The plot thickens.

Maybe this is why he was so sad

The campaign manager for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, already facing a state investigation over allegations of theft from Dewhurst’s political account, has been accused of also taking at least $1 million from the Republican’s U.S. Senate campaign last year. Federal officials have opened an investigation of their own.

Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield, a longtime political adviser to the lieutenant governor, stole at least $1 million from Dewhurst’s failed Senate campaign for his own use, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission by lawyers for Dewhurst.

The Dewhurst campaign’s internal investigation “found that Mr. Barfield knowingly supplied false information to the Dewhurst campaign, which then caused the Dewhurst campaign to report a number of inaccurate transactions” in disclosure reports required under federal law, the lawyers wrote.


The new disclosure widens the potential criminal liability for Barfield, who is now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. And it deepens the political fallout for Dewhurst, who has said he knew nothing of the financial irregularities until a campaign accountant notified him in early December.

The Dewhurst campaign sent the federal agency extensive amended campaign finance reports that removed from the original reports a long list of transactions “which did not actually occur.”

The letter also indicates that because of Barfield’s machinations, Dewhurst’s U.S. Senate campaign account owes money to his state political account — an apparent violation of federal campaign finance laws — for consulting services.


Dewhurst campaign officials said Barfield concealed his theft from the state account by falsifying bank deposit slips, vendor invoices and finance reports to make it appear that campaign accounts had far more cash on hand than they actually did. In the meantime, he and his side businesses, such as Alexander Group Consulting, were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for services — many of which were never delivered.

Barfield associates have said he was involved in high-dollar property deals and other business ventures across the country that might have led to his alleged actions with the campaign accounts.

Federal reports filed by Dewhurst’s Senate campaign showed similar practices by Barfield in handling funds for that account. They included numerous companies — such as campaign and media consultants — who were not paid for their services.

Dewhurst campaign officials also said they were sending refund checks to contributors who made maximum $2,500 donations for the general election campaign last year. Dewhurst was defeated in the GOP primary runoff by Ted Cruz and didn’t make it to the general election.

In all, about $780,000 in refunds will be sent out by the end of the week. Dewhurst apparently had to personally supply some of the money used to issue the refunds.

See here for some background. What a big, ugly mess this is. Barfield apparently had some business dealings that went south, which seem to have left him in a cash crunch. Given that, it’s not too surprising that he might have taken advantage of the large supply of campaign money that had been entrusted to his care. The DMN story indicates that Barfield had financial issues going back to at least 2009, which makes one wonder if Dewhurst was unaware of what was going on with his campaign manager, or if he knew but trusted him anyway. Either way, it sure bit him in the hindquarters. The Statesman has more.

Dewhurst campaign aide accused of stealing contributions


Maybe this is why he was so sad

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.