Bob Moore has been central to the attempt to remove an elected official who received 201,111 votes from office, according to a federal complaint and court documents. As both a reporter of the events surrounding the attempt to remove Yvonne Rosales from office and as an active participant in the removal process, Moore has been part of the conspiracy alleges the complaint. This raises two important questions. Did Bob Moore commit journalistic malfeasance by becoming part of the story instead of simply reporting it? The second question is whether Bob Moore violated the law by involving himself in the attempt to remove Rosales from office? In this special report we will look at these issues and report on their possible motives and implications for Bob Moore, El Paso Matters and the community.

The Removal Petition

On August 24, 2022, El Paso attorney Omar Carmona filed a petition demanding that a judge order the removal of District Attorney Yvonne Rosales. Carmona, in his petition to remove Rosales, alleges that she is unable to fulfill her duties as the district attorney. Carmona listed several statistics on criminal case dismissals, failure to prosecute cases and the dismissal of a capital murder case, as well as the “mishandling of a mass murder case,” in the Walmart murders to support his “incompetence” argument. Carmona also includes the November 30, 2021, Texas Ethics Commission draft report which opined that “Rosales had used governmental resources for political purposes,” according to Carmona’s court filing. Carmona, in his court filing, asks the court to first “temporarily suspend” her and have her removed from office after “a jury finding” is “entered” that she “is incompetent” to continue as the district attorney. [1]

Carmona included a Texas Ethics Commission opinion in his list of allegations against Rosales. However, what is not mentioned in the Carmona court filing is that the ethics opinion was a draft version that was removed by the individual that made it before the Texas Ethics Commission could decide the merits of the allegations. An unidentified individual who works in the district attorney’s office filed a request with the Texas Ethics Commission asking, “whether an officer or employee of a district attorney’s office may use public funds to create items with logos that display the name and title of the officer and distribute the items to the public.” The request pointed to three examples of the alleged misuse of public funds by Rosales’ office. [2]

The first was the use of Rosales’ title and name in “various promotional items like pens and tote bags.” The Commissioned ruled that the use of Rosales’ name and title on the promotional items “would constitute a misuse” of public funds. The next item the Commission was asked to address was whether using a car magnet depicting the logo and title of the district attorney’s office would also constitute a misuse of public funds. The Commission ruled that according to the “hypothetical facts” presented to them, the use of public funds would not be a misuse of public funds. The third example asked if brochures printed with Rosales’ information that included information “to those who may have been or know someone who is or was a victim of a crime,” would constitute the misuse of government resources. In this case, the Commissioned was unable to conclude if the brochures would be a misuse of public funds because “a representative sample” was not provided to them. [3]

Of the three examples provided in the complaint, the Commission only determined that one item, “pens and tote bags” and other promotional materials constituted a misuse of government resources. However, on December 9, 2021, the request for the opinion was withdrawn by the individual who filed it [4] before the Commission could finalize the draft. A such, the allegation made by Carmona is based on an incomplete investigation found in a draft report that the convening authority never finalized.

Rosales Alleges Conspiracy

After Carmona filed his petition in court seeking the removal of Rosales on August 24, 2022, Rosales through her attorney responded on September 2. In her response, Rosales laid out a case of a conspiracy to remove her from office. First Rosales argues in her filing that the “County attorney is required to represent the State in a petition” for removing her from office. However, Rosales argues “that a conflict of interest exists” between her and county attorney Joanne Bernal. According to the court filing, Bernal employs Dana Carmona, who is the wife of Omar Carmona who filed the removal petition. Rosales goes on to name three employees that used to work at the district attorney’s office before Rosales took over and now work in Bernal’s office. [5]

Rosales alleges in her response that the three, Nancy Casas, Jennifer Vandenbosch and Cheri Raily, as well as Dana Carmona are “the motive for the filing of this petition” as “retaliation against Yvonne Rosales,” for “not allowing” Dana Carmona and the other three individuals to continue being employed at the district attorney’s office. [6]

Rosales goes on to allege that she “recently discovered” that a “conspiracy” involving Bob Moore and attorneys Justin Underwood and Omar Carmona was behind the effort to oust her from office. Rosales writes that Moore ran stories that “include information unlawfully obtained through the inappropriate use of the Texas Public Information Act.” Rosales also provides copies of a Facebook discussion between Moore, Carmona and Underwood that “focused on removing DA Rosales” from office. Two days after the Facebook exchange, Carmona filed the petition seeking to remove Rosales from office. [7]

Omar Carmona’s Standing To File Petition

In addition, Carmona has no standing to bring the petition to the court because the County Attorney, Joanne Bernal, must bring the removal suit, according to state law, argues Rosales in another court filing. Although Bernal has filed an “Entry of Appearance” stating that she is “ready to fulfill her statutory duty,” Rosales’ attorneys argue that is insufficient to meet the requirements to be part of Carmona’s removal suit. [8]

The IRS Complaint

In addition to Rosales alleging a conspiracy to remove her from office in her court filings, she has also submitted a formal complaint to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) alleging violations of the prohibition of political activities by nonprofit organizations by El Paso Matters. On August 31, 2002, a complaint against El Paso Matters was filed with the IRS alleging that the non-profit, El Paso Matters was “intentionally involved in political activism,” and was being “used to support illegal activity.” [9]

According to the IRS complaint, Moore “is conspiring with attorneys Justin Underwood, Omar Carmona, and Judge Penny Hamilton to attack and remove elected official District Attorney Yvonne Rosales.” Rosales adds in her IRS complaint that Moore “recently violated Texas law by engaging in” a list of “unlawful activity” that Rosales lists in the complaint. These include “publishing non-discoverable information from the Jail Magistrate Court,” that allegedly were “illegally obtained” and “by colluding with the Court in order to leak and identify confidential communications from law enforcement.” The complaint accuses Moore of “illegally recording in a restricted area of the courtroom in order to obtain the images of the families of the murdered victims of the Walmart shooting case.” [10]

Rosales, in the IRS complaint, goes on to provide examples of “severe antagonism” towards Rosales by his use of language in the reports published by El Paso Matters. Examples include the use of “excoriated” in describing a judge’s admonishment of Rosales and describing the judge as “clearly angry.” Rosales provided several other examples of inflammatory language used in the articles by El Paso Matters. [11]

In yesterday’s article we showed examples of Bob Moore’s use of language for character assassination for political purposes.

In one of the exhibits, Rosales lays out a Facebook exchange between Bob Moore and Justin Underwood where they discuss how to remove Rosales from office. [12] Under normal circumstances, the conversation between the two would be a conversation about process, except that in this case Bob Moore’s publication was reporting on the controversies with Rosales while Bob Moore was becoming part of the story by offering processes for the removal of Rosales from office. Moore had become a part of the story. Additionally, Moore was clearly inserting himself into the political process by suggesting the removal of an elected official, which violates the no political provisions of the IRS rules on nonprofits.

Moore was not simply a bystander observing the news event; he was credited with contributing to the El Paso Matters articles while also opining on Facebook on how to remove Yvonne Rosales from office.

Moore Advocates For Rosales Removal While Contributing Stories On El Paso Matters

The IRS is clear that nonprofit organizations “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” In the case of Bob Moore, he is actively engaged in political activity by offering the section of the Texas law on how to remove Rosales from office and opining that “a jury would be loath to remove an elected official.” [13]

There is a significant difference between a journalist having a discission about the processes to remove an elected official to understand the process better for reporting it and pointing out the pitfalls associated with the process.

An example of the difference is in our own reporting. When we researched the success rate of using the IRS Form 13909 to understand what a possible outcome would be in the case of Bob Moore, we discovered that activists are using another more effective method to force the IRS to act on the political activities of nonprofits.

McGuireWoods Consulting, a public affairs firm offering services to organizations looking to influence public policy published a blog post on May 4, 2012, discussing the use of the whistleblower laws by Common Cause against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). According to the blog post, that by using the whistleblower laws, that although Common Cause was unlikely to get paid, was more effective than filing Form 13909. The blog post adds that Common Cause was “the beginning of a trend in which members of the public use the IRS whistleblower process to challenge the tax-exempt status of certain nonprofit organizations and make public their efforts to do so.” By taking the whistleblower road, Common Cause was “assured that the information it provided” was analyzed more formally than a Form 13909, “by the Whistleblower Office.” [14]

El Paso News can report these facts by reporting what McGuireWoods Consulting suggests as we did, or we can actively engage politically by advocating that Rosales’ supporters file a whistleblower complaint against El Paso Matters.

Likewise, Moore could have participated in the Facebook exchange as an observer and reported on the discussion without adding his suggestions to the discussion. Instead, Moore chose to suggest how a jury may react to the legal petition that was later filed. At the very least, Moore could have abstained from allowing his byline to be used in reporting about Rosales.

The Jury Box Allegation

It should be noted by readers that El Paso News has filed several open records requests seeking information about the ongoing controversy at the district attorney’s office over the last couple of weeks. Yesterday we began receiving responses which we are starting to review. We’ve also unsuccessfully sought comment from individuals with knowledge of the events. One of the allegations is that Bob Moore “illegally” sat in the jury box and took pictures in one court case. We wanted to get more information on this allegation. According to Andra Litton, the assignments manager for KTSM, in the courtroom incident where the IRS complaint alleges that Moore sat in the jury box “illegally,” the judge in the case “placed all the media in the box” that day. Litton added that the media was “not expecting to be allowed to video,” but that day, the judge “allowed” them into the courtroom. Litton told us she has first-hand knowledge of this. [15]

It is unclear if this is the same incident referenced in the IRS complaint. However, it is uncommon for judges to allow cameras in courtrooms. This is usually at the discretion of the judge and is normally reserved for high profile cases. Why the judge in this case allowed the media to take pictures of the proceedings has not been disclosed by the judge.

The Underlining Problem

The underlining issue with Bob Moore and El Paso Matters are not the controversies with the district attorney but the direct involvement of Bob Moore in the attempt to remove an elected official from office. Moore’s involvement raises two important issues. The first is whether journalistic ethics have been violated and the second is whether the prohibition against non-profits becoming involved in the election process have been violated. The latter is a legal problem and the former is an ethical question.

About the issue of journalist ethics – this is not the first time Bob Moore has been accused of ethical lapses in journalism. We have documented several instances. The second is whether Bob Moore violated the law by becoming involved in the political process by advocating for the removal of an elected official by suggesting processes openly while writing articles that create the mechanism for the attempt to remove Rosales from office. The public record demonstrates that he did.

Bob Moore was not simply an observer of the news, he actively engaged in the removal process by opining about the process while writing about it. It is here where Bob Moore both acted unethically and likely violated the law prohibiting El Paso Matters from participating politically.

The Motivation?

What is the motivation to remove Yvonne Rosales from office? That is the question that is frequently asked. The problem is that those involved in conspiracies do not openly discuss that motivates them. Who is driving the effort to remove Rosales from office and who is behind it is unknown. Bob Moore is too open about his involvement in the alleged conspiracy to be the likely driver behind it. Identifying the motivation behind the effort is likely to expose those behind the conspiracy.

The obvious motivation is to make way for another candidate to replace Rosales. Could the motivation to remove Rosales be to put someone else into office? If this were the case, there are two possible outcomes to the Carmona petition to remove Rosales. The most likely outcome is that the court does not intervene in an election and Rosales remains in office. However, under this scenario, the narrative that has already been created can be used against a politically weakened Rosales in the next election for district attorney in two years. Because of the narrative, even if the court does not remove Rosales, she remains politically weakened even as an incumbent. The less likely scenario is that Rosales is removed and another individual takes her place.

Is Moore the driver of the conspiracy? This is also unlikely as Moore’s history in targeting El Pasoans for political purposes are driven by others for political reasons and for public policy. As we have demonstrated, Moore’s El Paso Matters would not exist today were it not for Woody Hunt’s philanthropy. We have also shown that Hunt is not above using his philanthropy to order the removal of a reporter for attempting to write a report critical of his political positions. The Community First Coalition published a book recently whose thesis is that Woody Hunt and other wealthy individuals control El Paso’s public policy with their wealth. Against this backdrop, the motivation to remove a Latina woman prosecutor that was not the individual expected to win the spot needs to be weighed against what could be leading and encouraging the effort to throw out 201,111 votes.

El Paso News sent an email request to Bob Moore to both his personal and El Paso Matters email addresses this morning asking for comment about the complaint. As of press time, we have not heard back from him. We will update this story with any comments he may submit when we receive them.

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Disclosure: The author previously provided a marketing proposal in his capacity as a professional political marketing consultant to an individual who purports to be working in support of Yvonne Rosales. The marketing proposal was created prior to the author becoming aware of the IRS complaint filed against Moore or before writing any articles related to the ongoing controversy. The author is currently not involved in any marketing efforts related to the controversy. The marketing proposal did not offer any strategies targeting the nonprofit status of Moore’s publication.

Footnotes:

  1. The State of Texas Ex Rel. Omar Carmona v. Yvonne Rosales, District Attorney of the 34th Judicial District, (2022DCV2472), Petition To Remove District Attorney of the 34th Judicial District Yvonne Rosales and Jury Demand, August 24, 2022.
  2. The Texas Ethics Commission, Ethics Advisory Opinion No. XXX, December 9, 2021.
  3. The Texas Ethics Commission, 4.
  4. Aaron Martinez, “Request for Texas Ethics Commission opinion on spending by El Paso County DA withdrawn,” El Paso Times, December 9, 2021, https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/local/el-paso/2021/12/09/el-paso-county-district-attorney-yvonne-rosales-opinion-request-withdrawn-texas-ethics-commission/6450451001/.
  5. The State of Texas Ex Rel. Omar Carmona v. Yvonne Rosales, District Attorney of the 34th Judicial District, (2022DCV2472), Respondent’s First Amended Notice of Potential Conflict, September 2, 2022.
  6. Texas v. Rosales, (2022DCV2472), First Amended Notice.
  7. Texas v. Rosales, (2022DCV2472), First Amended Notice.
  8. The State of Texas Ex Rel. Omar Carmona v. Yvonne Rosales, District Attorney of the 34th Judicial District, (2022DCV2472), Motion To Deny Realtor’s Application For Citation, September 6, 2022.
  9. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Form 13909, Tax-Exempt Organization complaint (Referral), August 31, 2022.
  10. IRS Form 13909 Complaint.
  11. IRS Form 13909 Complaint.
  12. IRS Form 13909 Complaint.
  13. IRS Form 13909 Complaint.
  14. McGuireWoods Consulting, “Common Cause Challenges American Legislative Exchange Council’s Tax-Exempt Status Using Whistleblower Provisions,” May 4, 2012, https://www.mcguirewoods.com/client-resources/Alerts/2012/5/commoncausechallengesamericanlegislativeexchangecouncilstaxexemptstatususingwhistleblowerprovisions.
  15. Andra Litton Facebook chat with author, September 7, 2022.

Martin Paredes

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

3 replies on “Complaint Lays Out Conspiracy To Remove Yvonne Rosales From Office”

  1. I don’t know what’s happened to you Martin, but Rosales needs removal. She should have never been elected. She is incompetent.!!!!

    1. She may or may not deserve removal. But that isn’t the issue. The issue is with Bob Moore and his unethical actions as a journalist and his illegal actions with his non profit entity. This isn’t his first time being involved in a conspiracy with El Paso’s powerful and wealthy “elite.”

  2. Its either a conspiracy or protected speech. I think what matters is what hat Moore the man has on when he writes. A removal petition is not a election.

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