As we reported, two ethics complaints were filed on July 5. Both are related to the ongoing controversy over the use of the city-issued gasoline cards by city representatives. One complaint was filed against Alexsandra Annello and a second complaint against Brian Kennedy. Another ethics complaint was filed against the city’s Chief Internal Auditor, Edmundo Calderon, on June 21. Calderon is the city official that audited the use of the gasoline cards by city officials. Calderon’s audit reported “excessive” use of the taxpayer-funded gasoline cards by some city representatives. All three complaints were filed by Deborah Paz who is also the treasurer of the Women’s Voice for Political Reform Political Action Committee, which is collecting signatures to recall Joe Molinar.

We can now report the status of two of the ethics complaints. One was forwarded to the city’s Ethics Review Commission and the second one was dismissed. The law firm Davidson, Troilo, Ream & Garza was appointed to the City to determine if ethics complaints meet the legal requirements before being forwarded to the Ethics Review Commission. The law firm reviewed the Annello and Calderon complaints, forwarding one and dismissing the second.

The Alexsandra Annello Complaint

In a letter dated on June 17, Frank Garza, the attorney of the law firm appointed to review ethics complaints “determined that the allegations made in the complaint” against Alexsandra Annello “describe a matter that is within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Review Commission.” The lawyer’s letter adds that “no determination” was made on the complaint, but rather that the complaint meets the requirements to be heard by the city’s Ethics Review Commission. The Commission will rule on the complaint after a hearing is held.

Annello, according to the letter, has until August 16 to submit her response to the complaint. After that, the Ethics Commission will set a hearing date within 30 days.

Paz’ complaint against Annello alleges that Annello “has allowed someone else to use her fuel card,” at least 15 times, according to the complaint. The use of the taxpayer-funded fuel cards became controversial after the city’s auditor, Edmundo Calderon, issued a report on May 4 to the City’s Financial Oversight & Audit Committee (FOAC) alleging “excessive use” of the cards by some city officials. Calderon’s report led to a police investigation that alleged that “a city employee” is “alleged to have stolen gasoline.” The police determined that no crime had been committed and closed the investigation.

However, although the police department has closed its investigation into the allegations, our request for a copy of the surveillance video collected by the El Paso Police Department investigation revealed that an ongoing investigation remains open. The City has refused to provide information on which law enforcement is investigating the use of the gasoline cards.

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It is not known what the status of the open investigation is and we are awaiting a Texas Attorney General opinion on whether the city can withhold the surveillance video.

Three Open Complaints Remain

At least three open ethics complaints remain. They are against Annello, Brian Kennedy and Cassandra Hernandez. All are related to the ongoing gasoline card scandal at city council.

The hearing for the Hernandez complaint is scheduled for today.

El Paso News

El Paso resident, George Zavala filed his complaint against Hernandez on May 26. Zavala alleges in his complaint that Hernandez “improperly” received “unwarranted privileges” with the use of her taxpayer-funded card. ()

Hernandez, in her response to the complaint, denies abusing her taxpayer-funded fuel card. The hearing is scheduled for 5:30 this afternoon. El Paso News will be monitoring the hearing and report as new information becomes available. The hearing is open to the public.

The complaint against the City’s Chief Auditor was closed.

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The City Auditor Complaint Dismissed

On June 21, Deborah Paz filed an ethics complaint against Edmundo Calderon, the city’s Chief Auditor. The Chief Auditor now reports directly to the city council after voters approved Proposition J on May 6. Proposition J moved the city auditor’s office away from the city manager to the city council.

Attorney Frank Garza sent a letter to Paz on June 29. The letter was provided to El Paso News. In the letter, Garza dismissed the Calderon complaint after finding that “the Ethics Review Commission currently does not have jurisdiction over” the complaint. According to Garza, once the chief auditor was moved away from the city manager’s office, any ethics complaints against the auditor “cannot be sent to Human Resources.” Garza goes on to explain that the City Code defines an “officer” as any city council member or someone appointed to a city board and any municipal judge. Garza goes on to write that Calderon does not meet the definition of an officer and thus the Ethics Commission has no jurisdiction over him.

Garza added that a complaint against the city manager or the city attorney should be filed with the mayor or mayor pro tem because they are city council appointees. However, the chief auditor is not an appointee of city council and remains outside of the jurisdiction of the city’s Ethics Commission because of Proposition J. Because of how the ordinance is “currently written,” Calderon’s ethics complaint cannot be reviewed by the Ethics Commission.

Garza basis his dismissal of the complaint against Calderon “because the Ethics Codes does not identify where a complaint against the chief internal auditor should go.”


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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...