The El Paso Times saw fit to make an issue of a $25 campaign contribution to the Oscar Leeser Campaign from Fernando Parra who has pled guilty to public corruption in today’s edition. But as is the modus-operandi of the local paper masquerading, as a newspaper, it has neglected to point out questionable characters donating to Steve Ortega that are much more than the $25 given by Parra. As if that wasn’t enough, my original assertion that the Steve Ortega may have accepted an illegal campaign contribution has been validated.
Steve Ortega returned the money from Bain Construction.
On Steve Ortega’s latest campaign disclosure form, on page 34 of the online version, Steve Ortega refunds $500 to Bain Construction that he originally accepted on April 30, 2013. Because there was no “LLC” or “INC” designation I wasn’t sure if the campaign contribution violated the Texas prohibition of corporations giving to political candidates so I reached out to the Steve Ortega Campaign on May 8, 2013 to get some clarification about the contribution.
In my experience a substantial business concern does not normally operate as a sole-proprietorship and therefore I questioned whether Bain Construction was permitted to give to Steve Ortega’s campaign. The initial response from Steve Ortega was that after reviewing the issue, they had decided to return the contribution in “accordance with the guidance from the Texas Ethics Commission lawyer” they had consulted. Later that night, after my blog post had been posted I received another email from the Steve Ortega Campaign. [Read more here and here.]
This time they wrote that they were keeping the $500 contribution because Bain Construction was a LLC. I followed up with another blog post detailing why their explanation did not make any sense to me and that the public records suggested that Bain Construction was prohibited from donating to political campaigns. I laid out my argument detailing the reasoning behind my assertion that the original contribution was prohibited. Steve Ortega nonetheless wrote that he was keeping the money.
Well it turns out that on his latest campaign disclosure form it seems that Steve Ortega finally agrees with me that the original campaign contribution he accepted was improper.
How do I know this? Because he returned the money.
That’s right; he returned the money validating my premise that he should not have accepted the money to begin with. Throughout all of this public discussion not one mass media outlet picked up on this possible criminal case involving Steve Ortega and Bain Construction.
The elements were there, a possible crime involving a mayoral candidate in the middle of a runoff election. Why was this not “news worthy”? Is it because a hated blogger picked it up? Or, is it because Steve Ortega is supported by a group of the richest people in El Paso that the media does not want to anger? Or, could it be because the El Paso media is really that incompetent?
Thinking about incompetence, the El Paso Times, masquerading as the local paper, decided to point out a $25 contribution to the Oscar Leeser Campaign from Fernando Parra but the same paper sees nothing wrong with Steve Ortega’s acceptance of a corporate donation. Also the paper sees nothing wrong with a campaign under reporting $40,000 before the election only to correct it after the votes have been tallied. More importantly the El Paso Times doesn’t see fit to point out that Steve Ortega accepted campaign contributions from questionable people.
Take for example Rudolf Montiel who gave Steve Ortega [page 6 of the online version of the campaign report] $500 on May 2, 2013. Remember Rudy Montiel from the El Paso Housing Authority? The most recent escapade by Montiel was when he was fired by the L.A. Housing Authority on March 21, 2011. Just as in El Paso, Montiel was accused of abusive practices and the misuse of the Housing Authority’s funds. Rudy Montiel left an extensive trail of disaster during his tenure at the El Paso Housing Authority, much of which I wrote about on my blog in 2003.
And what about Juan Sandoval who retired as the El Paso Consolidated Tax Office’s tax assessor-collector after a city audit showed over $1 million in accounting irregularities were discovered at the tax office in 2012. The findings were forwarded to the police department. Sandoval gave Steve Ortega $50 on May 6, 2013. [page 13 of the online version of the campaign report]
Of course Melissa O’Rourke, mother of Beto O’Rourke, is an ardent supporter of Steve Ortega. Her latest campaign contribution to Steve Ortega was $250 on May 7, 2013, another $250 on May 17, and another $250 on May 30. [pages 15, 22 and 28 of the online version of the campaign report] Melissa O’Rourke owns and operates Charlotte’s, an entity that pled guilty in 2010 to federal charges for not reporting $630,000 in cash to the IRS as required by the law. I guess $750 in campaign contributions spread out over three days in one month must make sense to someone, but it seems ridiculous to me. I have too many questions and too little time to dig through all of the political shenanigans. But I digress.
And then we get to Ruth Reyes‘ campaign contribution to Steve Ortega on May 8, 2013 [page 15 of the online version of the campaign report] in the amount of $1,000. Ruth Reyes married Larry Medina in 2007. Larry Medina (Prisoner no: 65787-280) is currently sitting in federal prison in Tucson for public corruption. He is not expected to be released until April 16, 2014.
Interesting characters Steve Ortega surrounds himself with all having some connection to questionable monetary monkey business. But to the El Paso Times’ the only concern is a $25 campaign contribution to the other candidate. How interesting that El Diario reports today that the El Paso Times is still receiving rental payments from the City of El Paso for a building the city supposedly owns.
Wow, I wonder why the El Paso Times is so desperate to keep Steve Ortega in office.