Editor’s note: Following the publication of this article, El Paso City Representative Cassandra Hernandez reached out to ABC-7 to say that Deborah Paz’s complaint against Kennedy and Annello has no connection to her or her campaign. Hernandez says Paz took a minimal role in her campaign after being hired by her campaign manager. While ABC-7 has confirmed that Paz’s PAC lists the same address as RallyPoint Public Affairs, where Hernandez’s husband Jeremy Jordan is a managing partner, there are other businesses at the listed address: 522 San Francisco Avenue.
EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- The City of El Paso’s Ethics Review Commission will soon review complaints filed against El Paso City representatives Alexsandra Annello and Brian Kennedy related to the taxpayer-funded gasoline cards.
ABC-7 has obtained their official responses and both are seeking to have the complaints dismissed.
Both complaints were filed by El Pasoan Deborah Paz, treasurer for Women’s Voice for Political Reform, according to the Texas Ethics Commission’s online records. City campaign finance records, reviewed by ABC-7, also show Paz was a paid campaign volunteer in the past for City Representative Cassandra Hernandez.
Paz alleges Representative Annello used her gas card “16 times since 2020 while in an active city council meeting(s),” allowing someone else to use her city-issued card.
ABC-7 reached out to Annello for a copy of her response. It says, in part: “These allegations are demonstrably incorrect, such as duplicating the same allegations five times, referring to another official’s use of the fuel card, and claiming Rep. Annello was present at a meeting when the video record of that meeting shows otherwise.”
Annello admits in her response that her husband, on occasion, fueled up her car for her to conduct city business, which she said is not against policy.
Annello further pointed out the city’s review of the gas cards did not determine her usage was excessive like other council members’.
The internal auditor found Rep. Cassandra Hernandez and former Rep. Claudia Rodriguez outspent their peers by far. The city’s Ethics Review Commission found Hernandez abused the gas privilege by using the card to fuel up two vehicles, and allowing her husband Jeremy Jordan to use it.
As for Kennedy, Paz accuses him of participating in, and advancing, the now-closed police investigation that looked into Reps. Hernandez and Rodriguez’s fuel expenditures.
Kennedy provided ABC-7 with a copy of his response where he denies wrongdoing.
The complaint centers around his presence during a meeting on April 6 between Chief Internal Auditor Edmundo Calderon and police detectives. Kennedy says Calderon asked him to witness the meeting as he feared pressure to change the findings of his gasoline audit.
Later that day, Calderon was told by interim El Paso Police Chief Peter Pacillas his department was going to open an investigation into Rep. Hernandez. Kennedy says he was not at the meeting, nor any meetings afterward.
Paz also complained that Kennedy told Calderon during a meeting of the Financial Oversight Advisory Committee in June, “You got a lot of work to do, so get busy. Get to work,” with the intent to press Calderon into pursuing investigations against other members of council.
In his response, Kennedy says, “This was not a direction to do anything but have Mr. Calderon continue to perform his job,” having 13 audits that had finished, were ongoing or about to begin.
Representative Annello is scheduled to go before the Ethics Review Commission at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 29.
Representative Kennedy’s complaint will go before the commission in September.