Texas lawmakers sometimes have day jobs in addition to their elected positions. Newly elected mayor of Dallas, Eric Johnson, for example, just accepted a full-time job with the law firm Locke Lord. But some question why Johnson took the position, especially since he’s the first mayor to make an $80,000 annual salary.
Dallas Morning News reporter Hayat Norimine covers Dallas City Hall, and says Johnson’s new job could create conflict because Locke Lord has dealings with the city.
“Locke Lord, in particular, has some clients that include the city’s employee retirement fund and the police and fire pension fund,” Norimine says.
As a public finance attorney, Johnson deals with bonds, Norimine says. That’s important because cities often issue bonds to pay for infrastructure projects and other things. And a lawyer like Johnson could help a city facilitate the issuing of those bonds. But Norimine says Locke Lord has assured the public that it’s prepared to prevent conflicts of interest.
“Locke Lord representatives have said that they have an entire staff dedicated to ensuring a firewall between all their partners and their conflicts of interest, and have taken extra steps to make that wall even stronger with Mayor Johnson,” Norimine says.
She says the other concern is whether Johnson will be able to handle both roles effectively.
“How is he going to balance both those positions?” Norimine says. “Both seem pretty demanding and like full-time jobs.”
She says some Dallas officials have been supportive of Johnson’s decision, including Councilman Lee Kleinman who said that the $80,000 salary isn’t enough to raise a family in Dallas.
“So far, city elected officials have been trusting that he will keep those conflicts of interest away from his position as mayor,” Normine says.
Written by Caroline Covington.