Former City Rep. Peter Svarzbein traveled to from Boston to Tel Aviv on December 4, 2022 and then flew from Tel Aviv to El Paso on December 9, costing the taxpayers $3,193.06. City documents indicate he stayed at the Isrotel Hotel in Tel Aviv.

Why did he travel to Tel Aviv less than one month before completing his term of office?

He told KVIA he went to Israel to visit El Paso’s sister city of Hadera after being invited to participate on a panel, but the panel was held at a conference in Tel Aviv, 40 miles to the south, at an international expo called “Muni World.”

Svarzbein in Jerusalem_Dec 2022

He also told KVIA, in a written statement, that the “business flight was the only thing paid for by the City,” but his expense report reveals that the City picked of $297.62 of his hotel tab plus $731 for “Meals & Incidental Expenses.”

According to the conference agenda, Svarzbein represented himself as “Acting Mayor of El Paso,” which he most certainly was not.

His panel was titled “Municipal Impact: Local Ecosystems Creating Global Impact” and he contributed four comments, speaking for a total of 7 minutes and 34 seconds.

That means his comments cost the taxpayers of El Paso about $422 per minute.

His comments did absolutely nothing to advance the economy of El Paso or strengthen our relations with Hadera, Israel. Yet Svarzbein insists that it “was an important trip that […] resulted in building better connections and opportunities for El Paso regional initiatives and economic opportunities for our citizens. “

Watch the video and judge for yourself!

What else did Svarzbein do during his five days in Israel? One photo taken in the center of Jerusalem and posted on the Muni World Instagram highlights a meeting between “the heads of the world” and Mayor Leon of Jerusalem and President Itzhak Herzog. There we see Svarzbein in a blue shirt and sunglasses, among the “heads of the world.”

Who signed off on this this end-of-term trip pilgrimage to the Holy Land? CFO Robert Cortinas, who signed the travel request on November 29, 2022 and then the expense report on March 20, 2023.

We would say that the trip was a nice honeymoon at taxpayer expense (Svarzbein and Tatiana Avila got married the following week).

An examination of City documents indicates that in 2022 Svarzbein also traveled to Washington DC, Kansas City, and Santa Fe, costing the taxpayers an additional $3,004, for a total travel bill of $6,197 for that year.

Section 7.1 of the City’s P-card guidelines indicates that the expense card “shall only be used to conduct business on behalf of the City and will not be used for any type of personal purpose.”

Was all of Svarzbein’s travel for official business?

It’s amazing how much we have learned about the expenditures of Reps. Hernandez and former City Reps. Svarzbein and Rodriguez since Rep. Brian Kennedy was appointed the head of the Finance Oversight and Audit Committee!