Bob Moore is the President and CEO of El Paso Matters, which began publishing in February 2020. He has recruited top journalistic talent, including reporters who had previously worked at the El Paso Times. In the last year, luminaries such as Elida S. Perez have run excellent reports covering critical issues that have been overlooked by other local media outlets. In the short time since its founding, El Paso Matters has already established a reputation for high-quality reporting and won prestigious grants and awards.
So I am at a loss to explain why Moore, a champion of investigative journalism, has turned his guns against Rep. Brian Kennedy of District 1 for no good reason.
On December 7, during the election campaign for District 1, Elida S. Perez published a report that fueled accusations on the part of Analisa Silverstein that Kennedy somehow misappropriated funds when he was CEO of the El Paso Sports Commission when, in fact, the source in question, a 2019 audit, indicates nothing of the sort.
On January 4, Perez published a report with the deceptive title “2 new City Council members were ineligible for office when sworn in” where she impugned Reps. Kennedy and Fierro for failing to pay traffic tickets before they wore sworn in; but she failed to highlight that Rep. Salcido and former Rep. Claudia Lizette Rodriguez were guilty of the same offense (regardless of who was driving their vehicles). Perez made an effort to correct the record in a follow-up story two days later but her original, misleading story is still online, uncorrected.
TODAY’S HIT PIECE AGAINST REP. KENNEDY
Today the same Elida S. Perez, under the watchful eye of Bob Moore, published a report titled “Brian Kennedy’s sports consulting gig poses conflicts with arena votes” in which she accuses him of a “possible conflict of interest” because he “was paid thousands of dollars per month for consulting work for the El Paso Sports Commission while campaigning against the city’s Downtown arena plan.” She reminds us that “Kennedy abstained from the Jan. 3 vote on the advice of City Attorney Karla Neiman because of the consulting work with the commission, which manages the El Paso County Coliseum on behalf of the county.”
Conflict of interest? Really?? Consider these facts:
1. As of September 2021, Kennedy was no longer CEO of the El Paso Sports Commission, a private entity, but was a consultant.
2. Perez suggests that if Kennedy earned more than 10% of his gross income from the Commission in the previous year that there could be a conflict of interest under state law, but she does not show that his income exceeded this threshold.
3. During his campaign, Kennedy advocated for moving the Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center to the site of the Abraham Chavez Theater and Convention Center. He never advocated for building or not building a sports facility, much less one that would compete with the County Coliseum, and that is the bottom line.
4. Kennedy’s final invoices to the Commission were in September and they were, in Perez’s words, for an “an event management transition and marketing plan, a sports tourism annual plan and analysis and solicitation review for sporting events to draw sports tourism to the county.” How does this conflict with advocating to move the MPC to an alternative site?
5. Perez cites Dora Oaxaca’s recent ethics complaint against Kennedy for attending the January 3 executive session on the arena even though there is no regulation prohibiting him from doing so. He abstained from the vote out of an abundance of caution. Perez does not mention that Oaxaca is the wife of City Rep. Henry Rivera, one of the most fanatical supporters of razing Duranguito for an arena.
WHY IS KENNEDY UNDER ATTACK?
Perez’s latest report, sanctioned by Moore, makes a convoluted and spurious argument impugning Rep. Kennedy’s character and behavior without showing a conflict of interest.
Why did El Paso Matters not look into the business dealings of Kennedy’s opponent, Analisa Silverstein, whose firm designed webpages for ASM Global (dba El Paso Live and Destination El Paso) as well as the El Paso County Elections Department?
Why not investigate more important issues, such as why the Great Wolf Lodge land swap went forward when Karla Nieman told City Council in open session that it would not go through if Great Wolf Lodge withdrew from the deal?
Why not investigate potential conflicts of interest in the City’s 380 agreements with developers?
I could go on and on… But no, El Paso Matters is instead focused on conjuring a problem with Rep. Kennedy’s pre-election advocacy.
Is this classic watchdog journalism or is something else at play?
Enjoy your day.
PHOTO CREDIT: https://elpasomatters.org/2021/02/25/meet-our-founder/