As we reported yesterday, Bob Moore and El Paso Matters have been accused in a federal complaint of being part of a conspiracy to remove District Attorney Yvonne Rosales from her elected office. To understand how Moore conspires with others for political purposes it is helpful to examine a real world example. The problem with conspiracies is that they transpire over many years and are driven by various individuals. A conspiracy involves a group of individuals agreeing to cause harm. To cause harm in the political sphere, the conspiracy relies on creating false narratives to gain an advantage that those involved in the conspiracy want to achieve. To be effective a political conspiracy must harm one or more individuals to weaken them politically. It can be a private individual or an elected official who is targeted.

In today’s example, we are going to focus on a conspiracy led by Bob Moore and Veronica Escobar to weaken a political opponent of Escobar. Because those who conspire, especially in politics, seldom admit to conspiring it is difficult to prove a conspiracy. But a pattern that demonstrates a conspiracy, especially from the beginning to the end, when combined with other examples, especially when it includes one central individual – in this case Bob Moore – demonstrates that a conspiracy is likely to exist.

To understand the conspiracy, we can look at how Bob Moore uses whisper campaigns for political purposes with his publication, El Paso Matters. It is important to see who benefits from a conspiracy and who provided the seed money to Moore’s El Paso Matters – Woody Hunt – is important to the context of the conspiracy. As we previously reported, Bob Moore has over $1 million in donations from Woody Hunt related philanthropy to staff and produce news reports at El Paso Matters. The problem lies in how the reports generated by Bob Moore serve a specific political agenda. As we have reported, Hunt’s donations include the ability to dictate what a publication publishes about public policy in El Paso. Long-time journalist Debbie Nathan was fired for reporting what Hunt did not want reported.

In today’s example we are going to explore a 2018 case where Bob Moore led a character assassination scheme with Veronica Escobar to show how a whisper campaign is created, maintained and used to gain a political advantage. Yesterday, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued a letter stating that “the Commission closed its file on this matter” without issuing any sanctions. The matter, the stories written by Bob Moore and the closing of the file by the FEC three years later demonstrates how Bob Moore promotes whisper campaigns under the guise of journalism.

It all started with a complaint filed by Veronica Escobar against the Keep El Paso Honest PAC on February 26, 2018. Escobar alleged in her complaint to the FEC that the PAC was late in filing a financial report and that it had failed to file two other reports. Escobar told the El Paso Times on the day that she says she filed the FEC complaint that “Keep El Paso honest is neither honest nor law abiding.” The PAC was supporting Dori Fenenbock, who was running against Escobar, for the congressional seat vacated by Beto O’Rourke. [1]

At this point, the controversy over Keep El Paso Honest were regulatory late filings of financial reports and the allegations, if proven, would at worst result in a fine against the PAC.

However, Bob Moore involved himself in the issue in a Texas Monthly article a few months later. In the article published on May 10, 2018, Bob Moore started the article with the carefully crafted narrative that “if a Hollywood screenwriter was to create a character that embodies what people hate about politics, the character likely would look a lot like Carlos Sierra.” [2] The language choice had one purpose and the purpose was to frame Sierra as a dangerous individual working in the shadows to undermine an election. Moore’s carefully crafted language set the narrative about Carlos Sierra not for public policy, but to frame an opponent to one of Bob Moore’s favorite politicians, Veronica Escobar, as a dangerous person El Pasoans should be afraid of.

Moore continued in his soliloquy by pointing out that Sierra’s political experience “runs the political gamut” of having “top positions in Republican and Libertarian presidential campaigns,” and even working to “draft” Joe Biden to run for president in 2018. By Moore’s own analysis, Sierra has the political experience many El Paso political consultants would hope to be able to offer. Not many El Paso political consultants can say they have held “top positions” in presidential campaigns. By now readers are wondering, what’s the problem, it’s an article about a political consultant being reported by Moore.

Clearly, Sierra has the credentials to run political campaigns and Moore acknowledges them. But Moore writes that when he contacted Carlos Sierra, Sierra responded that “I only talk to real journalists,” adding that Moore should not contact him again.

Journalists are expected to be observers of the news they report and not be a part of it. At this point, Moore was rebuffed by Sierra and as readers can see, Moore reacted by putting himself into the narrative he was reporting. Most journalists, at one time or another, are rebuffed by those they seek a comment from. But most journalists will simply point out that they were not able to get a comment from someone or that the individual refused to comment on the matter. But Moore was not satisfied with reporting the facts, instead he seems to have taken Sierra’s comment that he was not a journalist personally. This is where Moore crossed the line between an observer of the events and a participant when he wrote that Sierra told he did not consider Moore a “real journalist.”

Moore has a history of injecting himself into the news story instead of reporting it like he did in 2013. Other journalists called out Bob Moore for becoming part of the story instead of remaining an observer reporting the news as it happened. A journalistic ethical lapse as pointed out by other journalists. More recently, as reported by us yesterday, long-time journalist Debbie Nathan called out Bob Moore by name for doing “something bizarre and hardly ethical” earlier this year.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t simply enough for Moore to become part of the story, his goal was character assassination, so he continued with the specific language he needed and the context to create the narrative to make the protagonist out to be a dangerous individual. Bob Moore goes on to write about the complaint filed by Escobar against Sierra’s PAC and then complains that the FEC has little enforcement authority. Moore is laying out the narrative that he already knows that the complaint is going nowhere but readers should ignore that because the complaint is what drives the character assassination scheme. This is demonstrated when readers learn that Moore’s article wasn’t about the FEC or Escobar’s complaint about the PAC, but just a segue into the character assassination that Bob Moore had embarked upon. The reason for the character assassination is known only to Moore but as readers will see, it is a pattern that Moore uses for political reasons.

Moore goes on to write about several legal issues involving Sierra as part of a carefully crafted narrative designed to damage Sierra. As if the narrative about the potential for the misuse of the Super PAC, which Moore accuses Sierra of in the article wasn’t enough, to further cement the shadowy political fixer that Moore was narrating around Sierra, he added Michael Cohen’s payment to the adult film star that become involved in the Donald Trump presidential campaign controversy. [3] Cohen, at the time of Moore’s writing, was a staunch supporter of Trump and an effigy of everything wrong in American politics. Moore’s addition of Cohen in the narrative only served the purpose to equate Sierra as the epidemy of everything wrong in American politics.

Moore never identified if he was writing the article on his behalf or that of Veronica Escobar, but Escobar herself adds to the negative narrative being weaved by Moore when Moore quotes her as saying that she is “not naïve about the dark arts that are common in El Paso politics,” adding that “you have someone, you know, this character Carlos Sierra.” [4] Readers should again note the choice of the vocabulary to frame the narrative about Sierra. Note the use of “this character” and “the dark arts” weaved specifically to demonize Sierra and not report on the facts about the allegations made to the FEC.

But the Texas Monthly report was insufficient to complete the character assassination of Carlos Sierra, because as Bob Moore had to acknowledge, Sierra was still working in political campaigns, including one that sought to draft the current president, Joe Biden, into running for president.

Earlier this year, Bob Moore, now running El Paso Matters, wrote another article again carefully worded for character assassination instead of reporting. Moore’s report titled “Almost 4 years later, records show anti-Escobar super PAC was funded by opponent’s family,” is listed as a “featured” article and not as an editorial or commentary. Nonetheless the article uses clearly inflammatory language not to inform the readers but rather to continue the character assassination of Carlos Sierra. Moore chose to describe the PAC as “a mysterious super PAC,” choosing to add the “mysterious” description to further support the narrative he has carefully crafted. [5] The report that Fenenbock’s family contributed to the Super PAC that had targeted Escobar would have conveyed the information without the need to add the descriptor “mysterious” unless the intent was to further a negative narrative.

Moore also erroneously reported in his January 2022 El Paso Matters article that the FEC “took no action” on Escobar’s complaint without providing backup material to support his assertions. Because Moore and his reporters have refused to answer questions for our reports previously, we did not ask for an explanation from him.

Although Bob Moore reported that the FEC took no action on Escobar’s complaint, the fact is that the FEC did not take the matter up until August 30, 2022, almost eight months after Moore reported that the FEC had ended its investigation into the PAC. Was Moore foreshadowing what he already knew, that the complaint was not going to result in sanctions?

As readers can observe from the FEC’s letter, the complaints against the PAC were not closed until August 30, 2022, according to the letter from the FEC dated yesterday. The FEC took no action on the complaints.

By looking at the context and the style of writing chosen by Moore in the articles he wrote, it is clear that the intent was not to inform but to create the carefully crafted narrative he wanted. Several other examples of Moore’s whisper campaigns exist in the form of the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) cheating scandal in 2010. In the scandal that led many headlines over years, the narrative created by Bob Moore through the El Paso Times was that a far-reaching scandal at EPISD involving a conspiracy of several teachers and administrative staff was exposed by Moore and his reporters. On April 2016, “six people – now exonerated – were perp walked through downtown El Paso in handcuffs, shackles and county jail jump suits.” Moore followed that spectacle with a “seven-page reverse-print white-on-black exposé” as his crowning achievement of his “snake oil salesmen” narrative of the cheating scandal crafted for political purposes. [6] El Paso News will explore the EPISD scandal in more depth in upcoming articles. What is important for readers to note is that although Moore led the narrative of rampant corruption, when the investigation ended without exposing the vast conspiracy Moore had crafted, Moore had already moved on to other character assassinations through occasional freelancing at the Texas Monthly and other outlets until founding El Paso Matters with the help of Woody Hunt.

It is here where we pick up on Moore’s latest whisper campaign activity.

Bob Moore’s Current Whisper Campaign

Readers could not have known about the whisper campaign against Sierra that Moore weaved over several articles until yesterday when the FEC closed its case without acting. During the four years that the complaint was open, Bob Moore took advantage of the complaint to attack Sierra in support of Veronica Escobar by weaving a narrative that alleged Sierra was dangerous to El Paso’s democracy.

Our various reporting of Moore’s lack of journalistic ethics and how Woody Hunt’s funding of El Paso Matters is an extension of Hunt’s public policy initiatives begins to show the conspiracy that Bob Moore leads in El Paso’s political scene. The most recent example of a concerted whisper campaign is against the embattled District Attorney Yvonne Rosales around a crafted narrative that she is “incompetent” to serve as the district attorney.

Piercing through the incompetence narrative is an underlining effort to deprive 201,111 El Pasoans of their vote by the removal of Rosales through a court filing.

On August 24, 2022, Omar Carmona filed a lawsuit alleging irregularities in the district attorney’s office. Carmona is asking the court to remove Rosales from the office she was elected to. In tomorrow’s issue we will show, through court filings and complaints how the conspiracy to deprive over 200 thousand voters of their vote is led by Bob Moore.

Stay tuned to our continued coverage.

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Footnotes:

  1. Madlin Mekelburg, “Congressional candidate Veronica Escobar files complaint against Keep El Paso honest PAC,” El Paso Times, February 28, 2018, https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/02/26/congressional-candidate-veronica-escobar-files-complaint-against-keep-el-paso-honest-pac/372859002/.
  2. Robert Moore, “El Paso Super PAC Is Shrouded in Mystery,” Texas Monthly, May 10, 2018, https://www.texasmonthly.com/news-politics/el-paso-super-pac-shrouded-mystery/.
  3. Moore, “El Paso Super PAC.”
  4. Moore, “El Paso Super PAC.”
  5. Robert Moore, “Almost 4 years later, records show anti-Escobar super PAC was funded by opponent’s family,” January 27, 2022, https://elpasomatters.org/2022/01/27/almost-4-years-later-records-show-anti-escobar-super-pac-was-funded-by-opponents-family/
  6. “Bombshell in the Barrio,” El Paso Parrhesia Press, 2020, 202-203.

Martin Paredes

Reporting on public corruption, border politics, immigration and public policy in El Paso since 2000.

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