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Dem DA Under Fire

Craig Watkins (AP)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations the Democratic district attorney for Dallas abused the power of his office by filing a fraud lawsuit to benefit a campaign contributor.

The investigation concerns accusations that Dallas County DA Craig Watkins filed a mortgage fraud lawsuit against Albert Hill III in order to benefit Lisa Blue, a Dallas trial lawyer who is one of Watkins’ campaign contributors, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Mr. Hill maintains that Mr. Watkins charged him with mortgage fraud as a favor to prominent Dallas trial lawyer Lisa Blue, a frequent backer of Democrats, including Mr. Watkins. Ms. Blue, who represented Mr. Hill in a long-running battle over a family trust, was in the midst of a dispute with Mr. Hill over millions of dollars in legal fees when Mr. Watkins's office charged him with mortgage fraud in 2011.

A state judge in March dismissed the mortgage-fraud case against Mr. Hill, who has denied committing any crimes. The judge also declared Mr. Watkins in contempt of court for refusing to answer questions about what led to the filing of the case. Mr. Watkins has appealed the ruling.

Controversy over the mortgage-fraud case picked up steam last week when the judge issued a court order indicating that the FBI was seeking access to sealed documents in the case.

"If the contempt citation is upheld," Watkins, who is up for reelection and may face a challenger in the Democratic primary, could receive jail time or a fine. A ruling is expected next week.

As the Free Beacon reported, Blue and her late husband were extensively involved in politics. Together, the couple "donated more than $1.4 million to Democratic candidates and affiliated groups since 1990."

Through their lawyers, both Watkins and Blue have denied any wrongdoing in the mortgage fraud case and the FBI did not comment on it to the Wall Street Journal.

This is reportedly not the first time the district attorney’s ethics have been called into question. As the Journal notes, a state judge accused Watkins of "unfairly investigat[ing]" her when "she sanctioned a prosecutor for refusing to produce evidence in a case."