When domestic violence increased in Dallas, District Attorney Bill Hill asked a business to contribute money so he could hire more staff, USA Today reports. Cosmetic giant Mary Kay donated $200,000 to help pay for a new investigator and a caseworker to work on violent crimes against women. “No counties have money to create new positions,” said Cindy Dyer, head of Hill’s 50-member domestic violence unit. “We have not had any new prosecutors or investigators assigned to our family violence division since 1997. Our caseload has tripled in the past seven years.” Hill hopes the deal “will encourage other corporations throughout the nation to consider new ways to help their local law enforcement agencies combat domestic violence.”
The partnership has raised questions among some prosecutors, as well as defense lawyers and government watchdogs. They wonder what kind of impact a donation could have on prosecutors’ independence, and whether there could be strings –attached to a deal. Rusty Hardin, a former Houston prosecutor, said, “It’s real important that a prosecuting agency not appear to be beholden to anyone. What happens if all of a sudden there are allegations against Mary Kay, and the Dallas DA’s office needs to investigate?” Bill Allison of the Center for Public Integrity, a watchdog group based in Washington, D.C., said the concept should concern taxpayers. “Will the recording industry be paying prosecutors for going after people they think are downloading music online?” he asked.