Embattled state rep. questions whether she was racially profiled at bank

Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin used her Facebook page to question whether she was racially profiled at a bank on June 27, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)
Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin used her Facebook page to question whether she was racially profiled at a bank on June 27, 2017. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of Austin’s state lawmakers is making waves once again, questioning on Facebook whether an Austin bank racially profiled her as she tries to cash a very large check.

Already facing an indictment for misusing public funds and tampering with government records, Democratic State Rep. Dawnna Dukes promised to resign from her seat at the beginning of the session.

That did not happen, and in the months that followed, critics pointed to her often empty desk at the Texas House as absent leadership.

Now, with the post on social media, Dukes is making sure her presence is quite public.

“I voted for her for multiple elections for, like, 10 years now,” Arthur Simon, chair of the Precinct 122 Democrats in east Austin, said. But now Simon said he’s fed up with Dukes.

In an interview Wednesday, he said his representative’s Facebook post about cashing a check for $10,000 or more is just another example of her disconnect with her district.

“Who’s ever seen a $10,000 check except on game shows?” he said.

“What would you think?” Dukes starts out the Facebook post, written Tuesday. She presents her scenario of going into the Frost Bank in north Austin to cash the large check, posted with a screenshot of a video she said she took of the teller.

“The teller questions why you have a check from an entity in another Texas city?” the post reads. “The teller proceeds to ask you intrusive questions never presented by other tellers.”

Dukes said the bank called the issuer of the check to make sure it was valid. “You’ve done banking numerous times and know the process that he’s required of you is inconsistent with normal banking procedures,” she writes.

The Austin-area’s only African-American representative asks, “Is this profiling?”

Several people backed up Dukes’ questions, saying they had similar experiences with banks as well. “Living while black,” one woman wrote.

“Sounds like the teller didn’t believe that a black woman could possibly be given that much money and it be a real check,” wrote another.

A spokesman for Frost Bank said no one was profiled. Check fraud is a serious problem, he said, and there were a number of unusual circumstances surrounding the situation — a non-member, a large check and a request for cash.

“When a person who is not a customer asks to cash a large check from an out-of-town company, it is standard procedure to validate the check and also to verify the person’s identification,” the company said in a statement. “In this instance, our banker acted appropriately.”

Dukes also wondered in the post about the teller requiring her to fill out a “blank deposit slip” because “checks in excess of $10K require that in addition to your Texas drivers license that he must take additional information.”

Frost Bank said in the statement that’s a federal regulation.

“The bank is also required under the federal Bank Secrecy Act to complete a Currency Transaction Report for transactions over $10,000,” the statement said. “This form, by law, requires the bank to ask specific questions.”

Reached by phone for comment, Dukes declined to be interviewed on the record for this story. She also did not respond to a text message asking for a copy of the video she said she took of the teller.

In response to the statement from the bank, though, she texted, “Hilarious! It sounds like a Corporate cover up for blatantly inappropriate behavior.”

While Simon, the local precinct chair who wants Dukes to keep her promise to resign, admits he doesn’t have personal experience with being racially profiled, this isn’t the kind of communication he and others who voted for her want.

KXAN found in April she had missed 75 percent of roll calls up to that point in this year’s legislative session.

“Who knows where she is?” Simon said. “What are you doing? What are you doing, Dawnna Dukes?”

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