Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez wants to say "thank you" in a big way to her employees. And she plans to raise some of the money for it through a raffle.
Sheriff Valdez put together a committee to plan an employee appreciation dinner at the Omni Hotel that will cost more than $20,000.
"Everyone else has a police banquet or a fire person's banquet or a rescue banquet and we have no banquet," she said.
But with no budget for such a celebration, fundraising has included luncheons and selling raffle tickets.
FOX 4 was contacted by some county employees who said the sheriff's department can't hold a raffle because it violates a state law that says only non-profit organizations can raise revenue through a raffle.
"It is a non-profit organization called the Sheriff's Bridge to the Community," Valdez said.
The sheriff said she created the organization several years ago. But the problem is that it is not mentioned on any flyers about the event or the tickets.
"Yes and it was an oversight on our part," said Assistant Chief Deputy Cheryl Wilson, who is planning the appreciation dinner. "It should have been the Bridge to the Community, but we put sheriff's department on it. We have corrected that moving and acknowledged that we just had an oversight."
The attorney general's website in a section on raffles said "proceeds from ticket sales must be used only for the charitable purposes of the qualified organization."
Attorney Chris Gober specializes in political law.
"Based on what the invitation says, it appears the proceeds would be turned around and used for the sheriff's department itself to conduct an event," he said.
Sheriff Valdez disagrees.
"We vetted through the county attorneys and then we went to the state attorneys. We vetted it through both areas to make sure that we are doing the right thing. The right thing is to continue to do things to go out of our way to show appreciation for our employees," she said.
The sheriff said her non-profit organization paid for a fallen deputies' memorial, assists in the prostitution diversion program and provides meals and shirts for people in the Sheriff's Citizen's Academy.
She also said letters will soon go out asking local businesses to help underwrite the employee appreciation dinner.
The employees who contacted FOX 4 still plan to file a complaint with the attorney general.
KDFW FOX 4
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