Scandal Clouds Dallas Ad Review

A criminal investigation of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority’s ad agency has complicated the search for a new shop and discouraged at least one contender, agencies said.

As DART reviews proposals from about 10 shops for its $4 million ad account, the Dallas County District Attorney is investigating possible illegal payments made from the incumbent, McGill Associates, to a company called GMC Associates that was allegedly created by former DART assistant vp Micah Causey.

A grand jury could return indictments this week, said D.A. representative Rachel Horton. DART is awaiting the jury’s decision and expects to name a new agency next month, a DART rep said.

Independent McGill, here, had apparently intended to defend, attending a July briefing on the contract. Founder John McGill last week would only say he is cooperating with the investigation. Causey resigned from DART after the investigation began. A woman who answered his home phone said he “would have no comment.”

The potential scandal scared off some contenders—with one exec calling it a potential “quagmire.” Independent The Loomis Agency in Dallas dropped its bid. “It’s not something we wanted to get involved in,” said president Mike Sullivan.

But Pat Kempf, CEO of independent Moroch & Associates in Dallas, was undeterred. “DART’s needs are very straightforward,” he said. “We’re fired up about this.”