The measure of the character of an elected leader is how he/she behaves when no one is watching, and City Rep. Cassandra Hernandez and former City Rep. Claudia Lizette Rodriguez were caught with their hands in the cookie jar, big time.

Adam Powell is the “Government Watchdog Reporter” for the El Paso Times, and his latest report, “Council to hold special meeting over members’ ‘excessive’ fuel card use,” proves that he is a serious journalist.

He relates the findings of the Chief City Auditor on the “excessive” gas usage of Hernandez and Rodriguez—showing that they purchased “63% of the fuel used by the mayor and council last year” and that they each purchased fuel for at least two different vehicles.

Powell goes into great detail, documenting month by month how much gasoline the two reps purchased in 2022, including numerous purchases on consecutive days and, in the case of Rodriguez, two instances of purchases on the same day and two instances of purchases in Van Horn.

It is fascinating to read Hernandez’ reaction to the Auditor’s report, the facts of which she does not dispute. Rather, she attacks his professional integrity because he did not give her the opportunity to explain herself before he issued his report, as if City reps should have the power to interfere with the Auditor’s independent assessments.

Yesterday Sam Harasimowicz of KVIA asked Hernandez: “Has anyone in your family or any friends used your gas card? Can you say today if just you are the only one?” The rep replied, “Yes, I can confidently say I’m the only who uses it.”

She then emailed the network with this retraction: “As standard protocol, I must conduct a thorough evaluation of over 12 months of authorized transactions and review all relevant information before making any statements. This includes reviewing every transaction, expense, and time stamp to ensure accuracy and completeness.”

We are talking about gas purchases on 23 consecutive occasions, plus purchases while she was physically in City Council.

The two pinocchios keep telling the media that the City imposed no dollar cap on the amount of gas they were permitted to purchase, even though City fuel can only be used for official City business.

Title 8, Section 39.02(c)(4) of Texas law makes it a felony to misuse “government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the government” of between $2,500 and $30,000 in value.

In addition, the City has its own rules against embezzlement, and Section 3.4 of our City Charter gives City Council the power to remove a colleague from office.

Hernandez and Rodriguez should stop speaking to the media, issuing press releases, and posting on Facebook and Instagram, and they should retain criminal defense attorneys.


Please sign up to speak at public comment under item 1, which is the only item on Thursday’s agenda: “Discussion and Action on the results of Project P2023-06 City Council & City Manager’s Office P-Card, Travel, and Fuel Card Review.”

Also, please express your opinion about the behavior of Hernandez and Rodriguez in an email to our City leaders:;;;;;;;;

Please also consider submitting a 250-word letter or 600-word guest column to the editors of the El Paso Times and El Paso Inc, or an 800-word commentary to El Paso Matters.

Will City Council launch a formal investigation of the accused? We shall find out tomorrow.