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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – John Wiley Price appeared at his regularly scheduled meeting at Dallas County Commissioner’s Court instead of a specially called hearing at Dallas federal court. “I’m elected to be here and I chose to be here,” he said.

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In court, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Lynn said “I’ve got a lot of questions and I’m more than a little annoyed.”

Commissioner Price and his attorney Billy Ravkind are asking a judge to approve having taxpayers pick up some of the tab for his defense in his public corruption trial.

After the Commissioners Court meeting, Mr. Price said, “I didn’t know the judge felt differently, I did what my lawyers advised me.”

In court, Ravkind told the judge that it was his fault that Mr, Price wasn’t at the hearing.

The commissioner has said he doesn’t have enough money to pay for an adequate defense. He pleaded not guilty to bribery and tax charges. It’s a complex case with mounds of evidence to review.

Commissioner Price says, “It’s a couple million dollar defense, do you have it? Okay, most of it don’t.”

But Judge Lynn said it shouldn’t cost Price nearly that much. She assured Ravkind that his client is “not going to be treated any differently than anyone else. The difference is he makes a lot of money.”

CBS 11 News checked, and records show county commissioners earn $141,236.88 in salary and $9,295.56 in car allowance for total compensation of $150,532.44 each year.

During the hearing, the judge said she will be “going to look through a magnifying glass at his expenses” on his campaign finance reports. That’s because Texas law allows elected officials to use their campaign funds to pay for any legal defenses.

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Commissioner Price’s campaign finance reports show since he was arrested on charges July 25, 2014, he’s spent $12,077.96 in campaign funds.

Judge Lynn also mentioned the donations Mr. Price made saying he can’t give to charity then ask for taxpayers money.

The commissioner’s campaign finance reports show since he was indicted, he’s spent $1,742.82 in charity, constituent gifts, and awards. Additionally, he had $30,013.87 in campaign contributions in his account as of December 31, 2014, the last reporting date.

Victor Vital, a Dallas defense attorney with Greenberg Traurig, represented Sheila Farrington Hill, during the Dallas City Hall corruption trial. He says the Constitution requires all defendants receive an effective defense. “Nobody ever says how much the government spends. The government spent overwhelming amounts of money compared to what the defense in this case will ever receive.”

Bennie Jeffery stood outside federal court Wednesday morning, hoping the judge will reject Commissioner Price’s request for taxpayers’ help. “Innocent ’til proven guilty, but again, it’s a slap in the face to every citizen for him to come and ask for taxpayers’ funds.”

If Commissioner Price still wants the judge to consider his request, he will have to appear in court next Tuesday afternoon and show her detailed proof he can’t afford to pay for his defense.

Also Wednesday, Mr. Price’s attorney withdrew his request to have two separate trials — one on the bribery charges, the other on tax charges.

Judge Lynn also rejected a request from consultant Christian Campbell to have a separate trial.
Campbell, Price, Price’s assistant Dapheny Fain and Price’s political consultant Kathy Nealy have all pleaded not guilty and will go to trial next January.

Fain and Nealy have already been approved to receive taxpayer funds to pay for their defense.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

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