Before the FBI investigation into public corruption became public, a growing political faction within El Paso led by Eliot Shapleigh decried how Luther Jones ran candidate slates. As you all know Luther Jones is currently in prison for public corruption. Shapleigh’s “click” as some referred to the group was comprised by Susie Byrd, Veronica Escobar, Beto O’Rourke and Steve Ortega. They complained that Luther Jones groomed and recruited candidates to serve Jones’ interest. Jones sits in prison for corrupting public monies towards certain benefactors. Many will argue that he did this by running candidates that he carefully put into office for his benefit.

As soon as the public corruption scandal went beyond Luther Jones and cohorts the Shapleigh disciples; Susie Byrd, Beto O’Rourke and Steve Ortega, among others signed the “Contract with El Paso for Ethical Government” proclaiming that they were above public corruption. Part of their proclamation proclaimed that they would “demand the highest level of ethical, honest and principled conduct in local governance”.

Likewise Woody Hunt created the Citizens for Prosperity PAC ostensibly to bring honesty to the political contributions game. Hunt’s PAC directly supported Ann Morgan Lilly who is being investigated by the El Paso Police Department for a second allegation of assault. Unfortunately we know little about that investigation because it’s all secret. How very convenient. Lilly was also a signer of the “Contract with El Paso for Ethical Government”. The PAC also supported Cortney Niland’s run for office.

As I detailed for you before, Hunt’s PAC took the position that instead of giving campaign contributions directly to candidates it would direct the funds directly to The Forma Group on behalf of the candidate. In my blog post; “Who is The Forma Group” I detailed for you the secretive public relations and or lobbyist organization that has been propelling candidates with about $1.6 million in campaign contributions not including city elections much of it coming from some of the wealthiest people in El Paso.

Almost anyone you ask to describe the public corruption scandal in El Paso would likely describe it as bribes disguised as campaign contributions.

In the same article I detailed The Forma Group’s forfeiture of its authority to conduct business in Texas all the while managing Steve Ortega’s campaign among others. Although The Forma Group has petitioned the State of Texas to allow it to continue in business, and the State has agreed there are still questions remaining about the business ethics of the organization and its owners and its associates. Some of these I have already shared with you, for example Mark Smith’s attempt to garner a $13,500 a month fee to get Marisa Marquez to “run interference”.

On June 4, 2007, Don Kirkpatrick wrote an article where he likened the brewing public corruption scandal as the “Jonesville Scandal” alluding to the Luther Jones corruption. Kirkpatrick wrote that Susie Byrd, Veronica Escobar, Steve Ortega and Eliot Shapleigh “fought the Luther Jones forces for decades”. Like him, the Shapleigh disciples proclaimed that the public corruption scandal was about Luther Jones candidate slates.

We have also documented a text message from a lobbyist, Mark Smith who is associated to The Forma Group and Hunt texted to a politician that he can get Marisa Marquez to “run interference” for a monthly fee. Marquez has denied any impropriety yet she still has paid The Forma Group at least $30,000 between September and December of last year. How is any of that palatable to Kirkpatrick and Shapleigh’s disciples? Where is the outrage?

As I continue to review the latest candidate financial disclosure forms I can’t help but wonder where is the indignation and the calls for accountability in today’s candidate slates. I have connected the dots for you that lead from Woody Hunt down through candidates that seem to have a consistent public agenda mindset all with one central entity spending the candidates’ political contributions on their elections; The Forma Group.

The Forma Group may have successfully petitioned to be reinstated by the State of Texas and they have even updated their website however the amount of political contributions they manage, much of it from wealthy El Pasoans, should be of a concern to those who see political slates as an opportunity for corruption.

Was the cry of political slates only a red herring because others were being more successful in running candidates? It seems that maybe it is something best forgotten now that the nemesis, Luther Jones isn’t in the political scene. Their silence today on political slates is very telling to me.

Although I have shared with you much information about The Forma Group there is more you need to know. Tomorrow I’ll add more detail about who comprises The Forma Group and how the dots connect between them and certain candidates.

Their job is to get candidates elected how they do that is by manipulating the electorate. Whether what they do is ethical or not is ultimately up to you to decide however operating ethically as a business concern should be part of the discussion. Useful idiots are part of the tools at their disposal and I’ll also show you how one blogger is benefiting their candidate slate.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

One reply on “Luther Jones and The Forma Group”

  1. I don’t see how depriving the public of its input on the stadium and their right to a yes/no vote is ethical, but it was seen as such by Ortega and Byrd. The net beneficiaries of all this are Hunt, Foster and the Downtown Clique who receive tax abatements and direct subsidies from the general tax base, courtesy of a bought-and-paid-for city council and city manager.

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