On August 28, 2023, Phillip Laign filed an ethics complaint against former city representative Claudia Rodriguez. In his complaint, Laign alleges that Rodriguez misused her city-issued and taxpayer funded gasoline card by using the purchases on the gas card for personal use. The use of the city-issued fuel cards is related to an audit report created by the city’s auditor after an anonymous tip was received at the city’s hotline alleging wrongdoing by Rodriguez.
The city’s audit into the use of the fuel cards by city representatives led to an ethics complaint being filed by George Zavala against city representative Cassandra Hernandez. Hernandez was issued a letter of reprimand by the Ethics Commission on July 21, 2023. The Commission found that Hernandez used her fuel card for personal use.
Claudia Rodriguez lost her seat to Art Fierro in the December 17, 2022 run-off elections. Rodriguez’ last day in office was on January 3, 2023.
The city contracted with Frank Garza to review ethics complaints filed against city officials. On September 18, 2023, Garza wrote that after reviewing the complaint he “determined that some of the allegations made in the complaint…describe a matter within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Review Commission.” Garza added that although “I understand that you are no longer the City Representative for District 6,” the Commission has jurisdiction for events “that occurred within two years of the complaint being filed.”
Garza added in the letter provided to El Paso News that Rodriguez has 14 days to file a sworn statement with the city clerk’s office. After that, the complaint and Rodriguez’ statement will be referred to the Ethics Commission, who will schedule a hearing to make a determination.
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.
This afternoon, Claudia Rodriguez issued the following statement:
“I was informed yesterday by the attorney retained by the City of El Paso that the ethics complaint filed by Phillip Laign against me has been forwarded to the City’s Ethics Commission.” Rodriguez add that “while I respect the democratic process and the rights of Mr. Laign to file such a complaint, I plan to vigorously defend myself and the actions I took while in office.”
Rodriguez wrote in her statement that she “will not be making any further statements regarding the nature of this complaint to protect the integrity of the process and to ensure that no outside influence interferes with the facts that I will be presenting to the Ethics Commission.”
El Paso News will continue to monitor this story and report as more information becomes available.