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Ethics Commission finds City Representative Hernandez violated City Ethics Code

Update: Representative Hernandez released a statement following the Ethics Commission's decision to send her a letter of reprimand. You can read it in full below.

"After two days and twelve long hours of vigorous defense, the Ethics Review Commission has reprimanded me without sufficient cause or clear and convincing evidence. Full cooperation was provided on my part, as I willingly disclosed my personal checking accounts to showcase my household personal fuel expenses which accounts for a third of the disputed fuel expenses in question. Additionally, I shared the exhaustive work I undertake for my district, which necessitates considerable work-related travel. I also shed light on the importance of my family's support in fulfilling my responsibilities.

The decision handed down by the Ethics Review Commission is deeply troubling, particularly in its potential application to ALL members of City Council. It appears that the Commission's reasoning could have far-reaching implications for everyone serving in the City Council. The basis for their reprimand was the issuance of a gas card to me by the City, in the absence of a clear guiding policy, a move which the Commission subsequently condemned.

If the Commission genuinely believes that these matters are of significance, it is essential for them to apply the same standard across the board and issue similar reprimands to all City Council members. Furthermore, they should take a proactive stance in advocating for the establishment of a coherent and applicable gas card policy.

I am profoundly grateful to all the supporters who passionately spoke on my behalf during this challenging time. The outpouring of support from my constituents has been truly heartening, and I draw strength from their encouragement.

Ultimately, I remain committed to serving my district and upholding the trust placed in me by the community. I will continue to work tirelessly in advocating for their needs and aspirations, and in promoting transparent and ethical governance.

Thank you."

Cassandra Hernandez

Update: The City of El Paso's Ethic Commission unanimously voted that City Representative Cassandra Hernandez violated the city ordinance. The commission voted to give the city representative a letter of reprimand.

The commission did not have a motion to recommend removal to the City Council.

According to the City of El Paso's Ethics Commissions PDF on frequently asked questions, "a reprimand may be issued when the ethics review commission finds that a violation of this chapter was committed intentionally or through disregard of this chapter."

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- City Representative Cassandra Hernandez will be in front of the City's Ethics Commission Thursday, at 5:30 p.m.

Hernandez's husband, Jeremy Jordan, gave a verbal commitment to the commission that he will testify in the second day of the hearing. The commission also approved a motion to summon the City's Chief Internal Auditor, Edmundo Calderon

Representative Hernandez faces an ethics complaint from one of her constituents, George Zavala.

Zavala says he believes the city rep. committed an ethics violation due to her use of the city-issued fuel card.

Both parties gave their testimony and were questioned by the commission Wednesday evening, which lasted hours.

The Ethics Commission is set to decide if the city representative committed an ethic violation against the city's Ethics Ordinance. If they do find that a violation occurred, they have the power to issue these consequences, according to the city's website:

1.) Letter of notification: which may be issued if the ethics commission finds the violation to be made unintentionally or if the action was done "in reliance on a written opinion of the city attorney."

2.) Letter of admonition: this may be issued if the violation is considered minor or may have been done unintentionally, but requires a stronger response.

3.) Letter of reprimand: which can be issued if the commission finds that the ethics violation was done intentionally or "through disregard of this chapter."

4.) Removal from office: This is the highest level of consequence that the commission can give out. They can recommend removal to the city council, if they find that the violation was serious or a repeated offense.

It is unknown at the time of the publication of this article if Thursday will be the final night of the hearing.

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Sam Harasimowicz


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