As we originally reported, El Paso resident George Zavala filed an ethics complaint against Cassandra Hernandez on May 26. In the ethics complaint, Zavala alleges that Hernandez violated her position as a city representative by “improperly” receiving “unwarranted privileges” by using her city-issued gasoline card.

An internal auditor’s report led city council on May 11 to vote to hire an independent investigator to investigate “the usage” of gasoline cards by current and former members of the city council. The city auditor’s report also led to a police investigation looking into the use of the city-issued gasoline cards. The police report revealed that video surveillance footage collected during the police investigation suggested that Hernandez’ husband used her card to fuel his vehicle.

Hernandez has told the news media that a policy for the use of the taxpayer-funded gasoline cards does not exist for city representatives.

As we reported, the City’s Ethics Commission is set to hold a hearing on the ethics complaint against Hernandez on July 19. Hernandez had 14 days to respond to the allegation made in the ethics complaint, but she asked for and the chairman of the Ethics Commission agreed to extend the deadline by seven days. The new deadline was June 29.

We need your support to keep delivering the news and information that is important to you. We are seeking to raise $5,000 to cover our costs through the end of the year. We would not be asking if we did not need your support.

The Hernandez Response

El Paso News was provided a copy of Hernandez’ response to the Zavala ethics complaint. Her response, dated June 29, states that Hernandez “vehemently maintains that there was no violation of the City’s Ethics Code provisions.”

The response by her attorney, Felix Valenzuela, states that Hernandez “did not violate” any rules or procedures and that she “did not secure any unwarranted privileges.” The response adds that Hernandez “did not use City resources for her personal benefit.”

Valenzuela, Hernandez’s attorney explains that “during the relevant time period, (i.e. 2022), no policy covered the use of the fuel card.” According to the response, the policy at the time applied “only to City Employees using City-owned vehicles.” Hernandez is an elected official and not a city employee.

Valenzuela explains that the city’s policy does not make any mention of an “Officer,” arguing that Hernandez is not a city employee and the policy does not include her. The response adds the police investigation “reached” the “same conclusion.”

Hernandez’ response adds that the city’s auditor, Edmundo Calderon, “determined” the “same conclusion,” because the City’s policy “does not address the use of the Commercial Fuel Card by Members of the City Council.”

Her attorney wrote that because the City’s policy focuses on the employees and excludes the elected officials, Hernandez is not bound by the City’s policy. The attorney uses the Latin phrase: “inclusio unius est exclusion alterius” to explain why Hernandez cannot violate the City’s policy on the use of the fuel cards. The phrase translates to “the express mention of one thing excludes all others.”

We need your support to keep delivering the news and information that is important to you. We are seeking to raise $5,000 to cover our costs through the end of the year. We would not be asking if we did not need your support.

According to the 1931 Marquette Law Review, the construction of laws is “that the expression of one subject, object, or idea is the exclusion of other subjects, objects, or ideas.” According to West Law, it can be presumed that the use of “employee” in the City’s policy excludes elected officials from the policy.

The Use Of The Fuel Card By Her Husband

In her response to the ethics complaint, Hernandez argues that “she uses her personal vehicles to travel to and from City business.” The response explains that because the couple have five children, they “interchangeably” use two vehicles “to conduct her City business and incidentally to shuttle the couple’s five kids to various extracurricular obligations.” The response concludes with the explanation of the use of the city-issued fuel card by her husband is “because the couple swaps vehicles frequently, Hernandez uses both vehicles to travel for City business,” adding that any “travel for her family constitutes incidental use.”

El Paso News will be covering the July 19 hearing. Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

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 “Breaking News: Cassandra Hernandez Responds To Ethics Complaint”

  1. Bull, she is a thief. Interchangeably? Please. We are not stupid. Taxpayers should not be responsible for her or her husbands obligations toward their children. Take the card away from her unless you provide a city vehicle.

Comments are closed.