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State Fair Of Texas Pays 'Above Average' Legal Bills

DALLAS, Texas (1080 KRLD) - Over the next three weeks, thousands of you will go through the gates of the State Fair of Texas. There are bargain rates here and there and reduced rates for some groups. Most will pay the $17.00 gate fee. Where does the money go?

The State Fair of Texas operates as a not for profit organization. It has a 55-member board of directors and each year files a form with the Internal Revenue Service, Form 990. The Fair operates as an "annual educational and agricultureal state fair." according to the form.

For each year between 2002 and 2012, one name is in black and white at least twice on that IRS 990 Form.

Dallas attorney Robert B. Smith is on the State Fair of Texas Board of Directors. There is a separate listing, under the IRS 990 form, where he is also named the General Legal Counsel.

In 11 of those forms, Mr. Smith made an average of $299,471.18 per year. During five of those years, his father, Russell B. Smith was paid an average of $148,289 per year and listed as the State Fair of Texas Co-General Legal Counsel.

Additionally, their law firm, Smith and Smith LLP was paid an average of $178,280 for legal services rendered.

In all, during that 11-year period, the Smith's and their law firm made just shy of $5 million. That is above the national average for a similar legal position at a not-for-profit agency similar in size to the State Fair of Texas.

"The average legal position was paying about $161,000. Basically, the high range was at would be about $205,000." said Linda Lampkin of the Economic Research Institute in Washington DC.

It is also more than the City Attorney of Dallas makes ($217,000), the City Attorney of Fort Worth ($243,792.64), the Dallas County District Attorney ($210,173) and a State District Court Judge ($158,000).

There is no question a not for profit like the State Fair of Texas has legal work that is required. But it is not possible to tell what work was done for for the payments.

Robert Smith did not return our calls for comment on this issue.

Carissa Schuler of the State Fair did. "We make public what is required to be made public by law...and no more" said Schuler.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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