DALLAS -- At the last minute Tuesday, Dallas County Commissioner Mike Cantrell tabled discussion of District Attorney Craig Watkins' secret settlement of an accident he caused last year.
Cantrell, the lone Republican on the five-member county commissioners court, said he pulled the item Tuesday after receiving an e-mail this morning from Watkins' top civil attorney, Teresa Guerra Snelson, saying she and Watkins were out of town attending a long-planned event and couldn't attend.
He said he was surprised by the late notification, given that it was well known for days that the item would be on the agenda.
Cantrell put the item on the agenda after a News 8 investigation revealed Watkins paid more than $50,000 in state forfeiture funds to the man he hit in the accident and to the man's employer.
The commissioner is asking the court to approve hiring an outside lawyer to file a state bar complaint against the district attorney, in part for having settled the matter without Dallas County Commissioners Court approval. Cantrell wants the court to ask the state auditor to step in and do a thorough audit.
Cantrell said he plans put issue on the agenda for next week.
In an e-mail, Dallas County district attorney spokeswoman Debbie Denmon said she would talk to Watkins when he returns Friday about whether he would be available to attend commissioners court next week. Denmon said Cantrell should have asked Watkins if he was going to be in town before putting it on a court agenda.
"Mr. Watkins is an elected official," Denmon wrote. "He is an equal to commissioners court. He does not answer to them. It is a courtesy if he shows up, and he told one of the commissioners last night he did not have a problem with them rescheduling."
News 8 has also learned the DA's office spent more to fix the wrecked SUV than the previously acknowledged.
In response to a News 8 open-records request, the DA's office had released repairs records showing that more than $11,200 was spent to fix the vehicle. But a News 8 review of records obtained through another request shows the DA's office spent another $2,000 to fix the vehicle that they did not disclose in the prior request.
According to county records, the SUV still needs about another $4,000 in repairs. In an e-mail, County Administrator Darryl Martin said that the county's fleet unit "has been asked by the DA's office not to make any repairs on the vehicle at this time."
The vehicle is still sitting at a county automotive service center. It's been there for months.