Dallas Council’s Ticket Debacle

It may have been common practice for Dallas officials to request free tickets to concerts and events at the Live Nation-operated Superpages.com Center in the past, but a newly amended city ordinance could effectively stop the custom.

According to correspondence obtained by the Dallas Morning News, city council members sought 344 free tickets since 2006 – often requesting multiple tickets and parking passes for shows at the venue (formerly the Smirnoff Music Center) using city letterhead.

A city audit questioned the practice prior to the paper’s investigation.

"Without clear policies regarding the solicitation or acceptance of complimentary tickets, these transactions could be viewed as potential violations of either state statutes or city ordinances," auditor Craig Kinton wrote in a report.

According to the report, "Texas law prohibits the acceptance of gifts with a value of $50 or more by public servants from those subject to the public servants’ jurisdiction."

Similarly, the city of Dallas code of ethics "prohibits the acceptance of any gift or benefit that reasonably tends to influence or reward official conduct or that the official or employee knows is intended to influence or reward the discharge of official duties," the report said.

The city council voted June 11th to revise the Dallas code of ethics and clarify the ticket policy, which now states that officials may request tickets to events at for-profit entities such as the American Airlines Center and Superpages.com Center, but "are required to purchase these tickets at face value. Complimentary tickets to events are not permitted."

Despite what the audit established as standing ethics codes in the state and community, some council members told the Morning News that prior to the vote, the ticket policy fell in a gray area.

"Clearly, it was not very clear," said Pauline Medrano, who headed up the ticket policy task force. "After reviewing everything, I think we made a policy. I led the task force, and I tried to make sure it’s very clear to each and every one of the members of the council and the mayor what the policy is."

According to the paper’s investigation, Medrano requested more free tickets – 66 – from the venue than any other city council member. However, the ticket request correspondence reportedly did not indicate how much the tickets were worth and what city officials did with the tickets after receiving them.

Kinton told the Morning News he did not plan to pursue the matter beyond his recommendation of policy clarification in the audit.

A spokesman for Live Nation declined to comment on the matter.