After long silence amid calls for her ouster, DeSoto councilwoman says she will not step down

DeSoto, TX - For more than five months, DeSoto councilwoman Candice Quarles kept silent during raucous public meetings as residents demanded answers, apologies - and most of all, her resignation - after disclosures that she benefited from her husband’s theft of thousands of taxpayer dollars and kept it secret.

On Thursday she finally spoke.

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DeSoto councilwoman Candice Quarles held a brief press conference Thursday to announce she would not be stepping down, despite calls for her resignation. At right is her attorney Anthony Lyons. (Juan Figueroa/ The Dallas Morning News)(Juan Figueroa / Staff photographer)

In a brief press conference at her lawyer’s Dallas office, she said she will not be stepping down.

“Our work is not done,’’ the two-term council member said while listing some of her accomplishments since she was elected in 2016, such as winning the approval of a family-leave program for city employees.

“It’s fair for the community to be concerned," Quarles said, reading from a written statement. “We’ve put our faith in local officials to use those funds appropriately. … I am committed to just that. I’m hoping we can now move forward.’’

Quarles, who profited from her husband Jeremiah Quarles’ theft of $9,000 in city funds when he headed the Dallas suburb’s economic development office several years ago, refused to answer reporters’ questions after she gave her statement. Many residents had anticipated that she was going to announce her resignation and were concerned she once again did not go into specifics regarding her husband’s fraud case.

She said she took a polygraph test administered by a private examiner last August that cleared her of any involvement in or knowledge of the fraud.

Neither she nor her lawyer Anthony Lyons provided a copy of the exam’s results to reporters after Lyons said he would do so earlier in the 20-minute briefing. But polygraph examinations are not considered scientifically reliable and generally are not admissible in courts.

Quarles also did not address residents’ persistent questions, such as why her husband, who pleaded guilty last year, told police she knew about one illegal transaction when she said she had no knowledge, or why she kept her benefits from the theft secret for more than two years.

Lyons said he advised her to stay quiet in recent months until the completion of a forensic audit commissioned by the city. But that audit still has not been released to the public and many questions linger about whether the investigators focused on her. She noted that the auditors have said they found no emails between her and her husband "regarding the fraud allegations.''

She did not mention that the auditors raised concerns that her husband paid thousands of dollars in city funds to the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals, a group she had headed for years. The Dallas Morning News reported in October that the councilwoman’s tweets placed her in close proximity to her husband during events or outings funded by his questionable payments, including an Urban League leadership conference and a trip to Disney World.

At the press conference, the Rev. Freddie Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church, defended Quarles, portraying her as the subject of mean-spirited attacks. "She’s guilty of being good,’’ he said.

Several Desoto residents said her refusal to step down or answer questions baffles them.

“It’s unbelievable,’’ said Dorothy Ann Dauenhauer, who is part of a group organizing a recall effort. “She should have apologized a long time ago and assured DeSoto residents with proof she had nothing to do with her husband’s embezzlement. She’s making a laughingstock out of DeSoto.’’

Robert Ashley, an analyst of southern Dallas County politics and news director of radio station KHVN Heaven 97, said Quarles’ continued lack of candor does not bode well for her political future.

“It looks bad,’’ he said. “The lack of transparency is appalling to the citizens of DeSoto. Our elected leaders are supposed to be above reproach, above the appearance of corruption. You could be standing next to the pope, but if you’re not being transparent, it only feeds the perception.’’

Source: Dallas Morning News