Marc Whyte accused of abusing his power; councilman says police were already involved in incident at attorney’s home

Attorney Martin Phipps filed a complaint against the District 10 councilman with the Ethics Review Board

Marc White, District 10 (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A local attorney has accused Councilman Marc Whyte (D10) of abusing his position as a councilman to “interfere” in a private custody matter.

Martin Phipps filed a complaint with the city’s Ethics Review Board on Tuesday, claiming Whyte had used his position to “dispatch” San Antonio Police officers and Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies to Phipps’ home on April 26 to try to remove a child.

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Whyte’s wife, Lorien Whyte, is an “attorney of record” for Phipps’ ex-wife, Phipps said.

“Councilman Whyte bypassed normal channels and used his position and access to obtain a specific result not otherwise available to the public for the benefit of his wife and her client,” Phipps wrote in his complaint.

Whyte called the claim “completely frivolous” in a phone interview with KSAT and said his actions were that of “a concerned citizen.”

“And to be really clear, everything I did that night, I would do again,” Whyte said.

While Whyte did end up speaking to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, who sent a deputy to Phipps’ home, it appears that San Antonio Police were already aware of the situation.

Whyte, a first-term councilman, was already facing controversy. He was arrested on suspicion of DWI in December but has not been officially charged.

In his professional capacity, Phipps is perhaps best known as having represented Bexar County in its opioid litigation. However, he has also appeared at the center of numerous other stories, including about employees’ claims of a hostile work environment and being sued for not paying back tens of millions of dollars of loans.

In 2021, Phipps was accused of harassing a woman to the point that she fled to Mexico in fear of her life. The case was later dismissed for insufficient evidence.


Whyte was at an event in the King William neighborhood with several other public officials on April 26 when he said his wife sent him messages between Phipps’ ex-wife and a child in Phipps’ home.

“It really, really frightened me for (the child’s) safety,” he said of the messages.

Whyte said his wife and Phipps’ ex-wife are “friends.”

Though Lorien Whyte had also represented the woman in an appeal matter during an ongoing custody case with Phipps, the councilman said the last legal briefing she had done was more than a year prior.

Phipps and his ex-wife are currently in arbitration.

Whyte told KSAT that Phipps’ ex-wife had already called 911 — something Phipps specifically claims she had not done.

However, Whyte provided a single screenshot of the text thread between Phipps’ ex-wife and the child, which indicated Phipps’ ex had likely made the call.

The screenshot shows the woman telling the child she was on the phone with 911. The time on the screenshot is 8:22, and the graphic for an ongoing, four-minute long phone call is also visible.

The police report of the incident shows an event “start” time of 8:20 p.m..

The councilman said his wife had sent him the messages to let him know what was going on and to see if he could find out information about what was happening at Phipps’ house, which was nearby.

The councilman also said he had a duty to report potential abuse under state law, but “I never asked the police to do anything.”

Whyte said he tried to call San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, but he didn’t answer. So he texted McManus at 8:53 p.m. with a screenshot, apparently of the conversation with his wife.

Whyte provide KSAT with a screenshot of his text to McManus, showing the time. In one of the visible messages from Lorien Whyte, she says “You have to impart on him how serious this is.” Whyte confirmed “him” referred to Chief McManus.

The Northeast Side councilman consulted with his colleague, Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8), a 2025 mayoral candidate, who was also at the event.

Pelaez told KSAT that Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar was standing behind Whyte, so he suggested they talk with him.

After Whyte showed the message exchange to Salazar, he said the sheriff brought them to a nearby deputy, whom he ordered to go to Phipps’ house.

When KSAT asked why Whyte didn’t call 911, he said he was trying to act in “the most expeditious manner possible.”

“Calling 911 — I don’t think would have given me information about what was going on,” Whyte said. “And then when I talked to Manny (Pelaez)... Sheriff (Javier) Salazar was right there, like 20 feet away from us. And Martin’s (Phipps) house was literally less than a five-minute walk. So the quickest thing to do was to notify Sheriff Salazar and get some... And then again, he got somebody to go around the corner to the home.”

According to Phipps’ complaint, he had been at home with his family. Phipps said three SAPD officers arrived at his door for a “welfare check” on one of the children, who asked to speak with the officers in private.

The SAPD incident report, which Phipps included with his complaint, does not specify what prompted the officers to go to the house. The report’s author wrote he was dispatched for an “assault in progress.”

The child told officers Phipps had picked them up by the arms and started shaking them, which Phipps denied in his complaint. The child also said Phipps had taken their phone and they were afraid to go back in the house without it.

Police did not see any injuries on the child, though, and did not remove them from the house. However, officers told the child they could text 911 through their laptop if they felt in danger.

According to the report, that’s how the child was communicating with Phipps’ ex.

Phipps said his mother was with the child while they spoke to police and later told him “two more officers arrived at the house with some type of ‘order’ from Councilman Marc Whyte.’”

According to his complaint, one of the SAPD officers sent the other two “officers” away.

The SAPD report states that unidentified “Bexar County Sheriffs showed a text message from Council Man White (sic), advising us of (Phipps) stating us to look carefully into (Phipps).”

The report notes that Phipps’ ex-wife contacted SAPD Deputy Chief Jesus Salame Jr. about the incident, and the officers also let him know what happened.

Whyte said he had physically shown a deputy the text exchange but did not remember sending a text to any deputies.

Whyte told KSAT he believes he got a call from Salame, but he was unsure at what point.

On his home, though, Whyte said Chief McManus got back to him to tell him that officers went to the home and the scene had been cleared,

“I said, ‘Man, chief. I can’t believe y’all left the scene,’” Whyte recalled of the conversation. “And I said, I said, ‘I really hope nothing happens to (that child).’ And that was it. That’s the last I’d heard of it until this complaint.”

Phipps’ specific accusations against Whyte include a conflict of interest, using his position to unfairly advance private interests, using the prestige of his position and taking up public resources.

“Councilman Whyte had no legitimate reason to insert himself into a private family matter of which he had absolutely no knowledge other than to use his position and authority to obtain a benefit for his wife and her client in an ongoing custody dispute,” Phipps wrote in his complaint.

A spokesman for Phipps’ law firm, Colin Strother — who recently agreed to a plea deal in the federal bribery case of his former boss U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar — said Phipps was not providing interviews.

Strother said Phipps hoped that by pursuing an ethics complaint that “Marc Whyte discontinues this practice of using his official position to benefit his wife’s business.”

A BCSO spokesman emailed KSAT a statement from Sheriff Salazar:

“While I was at a private party, I was approached by Councilmen Pelaez and Whyte. Councilman Pelaez indicated to me there was some sort of disturbance several doors down from the party at a private residence owned by Mr. Martin Phipps. I flagged down one of my deputies, who was working an extra job nearby on the street and asked him to go check it out. The deputy went down the street before returning a few minutes later and informed me that SAPD officers were already on scene and handling the situation. He indicated to me it was not much of a disturbance by the time he arrived. No further action was taken.”

Sheriff Javier Salazar

The San Antonio Police Department did not respond to a request for comment from Chief McManus.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been corrected to show it was Phipps’ ex-wife, not Phipps, who contacted Deputy Chief Salame.

About the Author

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

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