Ethics and The Forma Group

forma_forfietureAlmost everyone understands that far from being over corruption continues to permeate the city. In the latest election cycle, instead of transparency and although politicians continue to proclaim they are far from the corruptors that have been identified to date, some of them accept political contributions with strings attached.  It’s not just The Forma Group but also the process that uses them to fund certain candidates.

I believe I have established that certain candidates are funded by wealthy El Pasoans to run for office. The process goes like this; certain wealthy individuals give money with strings attached, basically using The Forma Group as the funnel. This process is suspect because the political contribution is given with certain restrictions from the onset. It comes down to this, a wealthy contributor gives money and the money is managed by The Forma Group to help the candidate to victory. Because of this the candidate must adhere to certain requirements for the money, use The Forma Group for consulting work.

Obviously the job of The Forma Group is to do anything it can to ensure the victory of the candidate that pays them. Examples of how they do this are the mail outs, the walking lists, the websites and the media buys. Their job is to groom a candidate for the publics’ consumption. But how about the less obvious functions the group provides to the candidates?

I’m sure many of you have noticed that new “people” that have suddenly surfaced on social media, like Facebook, friending you. Most likely, these “new friends” are people that seem familiar however, you can’t pin point exactly how you know them. These are likely fake identities created to manipulate social media outlets during the election season.

Social media has come unto its own in the election cycles and I have previously shared with you how bloggers manipulate the media and the electorate for the benefit of a candidate. I refer to them as the useful idiots. The Forma Group seems to have one such anonymous blogger working for them. I’ll be getting into his shenanigans on Monday, although he’s already outed himself. For now, let’s focus on The Forma Group.

As electorate manipulation is the name of the game, it is important to understand the ethics of the consultants that are manipulating the constituency, because if their business ethics are suspect then how can we expect them to be ethical about manipulating the electorate. Assuming that one could argue that electorate manipulation is ethical to begin with. So let’s take another look at The Forma Group.

Let’s look at their principals.

Marcus Saenz

As far as I can ascertain there are two individuals in El Paso named Marcus Saenz. One was born in 1933 and another is named Marcus Anthony Saenz who was born in 1983. Both have criminal records in El Paso.

On October 27, 2010 Marcus Saenz signed the Assumed Name Records filing for The Forma Group LLC. He signed as “Officer, Representative or Attorney-in-Fact of the Corporation”.

After The Forma Group forfeiting their corporate charter in 2012, Marcus Saenz signed the Application for Reinstatement and Request to Set Aside Tax Forfeiture the corporation filed on June 14, 2013. This time he signed as “authorized person”. According to the instructions provided by the Texas entity in charge of corporations, the person who signs the document must be a “member or manager at the time of forfeiture”. Therefore having signed the documents to register with the County of El Paso and the form to reinstate the company, I believe I have established that Marcus Saenz is acting on behalf and for The Forma Group.

Whether he is acting as an accountant, bookkeeper or business consultant, I do not know however, he is acting officially on behalf of the company. Because Saenz is not listed as a principal on either the website, the company’s brochures that I have seen or any other document I am aware of I can only assume that Marcus Saenz is acting as some type of business consultant or providing accounting related activities.

Doing further research allowed me to eliminate the Marcus Saenz born in 1983 and focus on the one born in 1933. My research through the County’s “doing business as” database showed that Marcus Saenz has acted as an agent for over 100 corporations since at least 1998. In many instances, Saenz uses an address at Ben Crenshaw and records show that one of his business names was Seanz Accounting Services. I was able to find a telephone number for that entity however when I dialed it, it was disconnected.

Thus, I assume two things from this, Marcus Saenz is providing business services of some type in El Paso and that it is highly unlikely that a 15-year old would be doing so therefore it eliminates the one born in 1983. Further research showed that Marcus Saenz has operated as a bookkeeper, business consultant and accountant for many years in El Paso.

Media reports from 2007 show that Marcus Saenz was 73 therefore it is very likely that the Marcus Saenz I was left with was the one born in 1933. The reason Saenz was in the media in 2007 was that he was charged with making false statements.

In fact, in 2004 Marcus Saenz was sentenced to four months in prison for making false statements. On November 7, 2007 Marcus Saenz was given three years of probation and required to pay a special assessment of $100 after pleading guilty for making a material false statement.

According to the court documents, Marcus Saenz submitted an IRS form fraudulently claiming to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) on October 2006. As part of his probation he was ordered not to prepare “any forms related to the filing of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) returns and/or appeals to the IRS”. He was also prohibited from engaging “in any accounting and/or bookkeeping”.

The fact is that I do not know if the Marcus Saenz I have shared with you here is the same individual who signed the documents on behalf of The Forma Group however it is likely that it is the same individual. There is no possible way for me to confirm if it is the same person, as I do not have access to the birth date of the Marcus Saenz that signed the documents.

I could ask The Forma Group however I have the feeling they are unlikely to take my call and much less confirm any details for me.

However, the evidence I have laid out here seems to indicate that it is probable it is the same individual. If I’m correct then remember that Marcus Saenz was prohibited from providing accounting-related services during his probation. It is unclear when his probation period started however, from the court records it must have started around November 2007. If that was the case then his three-year probation period would have ended in November 2010.

The Forma Group filed documents with the State of Texas on October 20, 2010 where the authorized individual acting on behalf of the company signed as Marcus Saenz.

So why did I bother point him out if I do not know that it is the same Marcus Saenz? For two primary reasons, the first is that if this were the only indication of questionable business practices by The Forma Group then I probably wouldn’t have bothered to spend so much time trying to ascertain if it was the same individual.

Remember that The Forma Group has already lost its right to exist as a business entity once in Texas because of what appears to be bookkeeping issues. Also, a controversial text has been uncovered between Ricardo Armendariz and another politician where Armendariz lobbies for political consulting work. Keeping in mind that Armendariz was following up after another individual, Mark Smith, who is also connected to The Forma Group had sent a text indicating that he could get Marisa Marquezto run inference” for a paltry $13,500 a month. This leads on to Ricardo Armendariz, the “face” of Forma.

Ricardo Armendariz

Not only was Ricardo Armendariz directly involved in the Marisa Marquez text controversy he was also a company principal when The Forma Group was suspended by the State of Texas. As if that wasn’t enough it now appears Armendariz continues to have trouble meeting the requirements of staying in business in Texas.

Just a few days ago, on January 7, 2014 the Texas Ethics Commission listed Ricardo Armendariz on the Lobbyist Delinquent Filer List. The list shows that he has been fined $500. Apparently, Ricardo Armendariz is too busy promoting the candidates that pay him for him to keep his business and regulatory affairs in order. Maybe in between texting potential clients his lobbying expertise and leading Steve Ortega to one of the most humiliating losses in El Paso election history he doesn’t have time to keep up with paper work.

What does that show you about his respect for the electorate or his ethics for that matter?

Remember that I showed you how on February 10, 2012 the State of Texas ordered that The Forma Group’s state charter be forfeited for violations of the tax code. It wasn’t until almost a year later, June 14, 2013 when Ricardo Armendariz had the time to fulfill his obligations to the citizens of the State of Texas.

Again, what does that show you about his interest in being ethical with the electorate?

Through all this he has ample time to manipulate the city’s electorate into electing certain individuals. He does this with monies paid to him by some of the wealthiest people in the city. I would define that as being a hired gun.

But am I the only one pointing this out? Texans for Public Justice, an Austin-based activist group alleging political corruption via campaign contributions has listed Ricardo Armendariz in its “Corporate Lobbyists Advising Political Campaigns in 2013”. According to its December 17, 2013 report, Ricardo Armendariz’ client Marisa Marquez was ranked among the “top Democratic recipients” of the $4.6 million for the 2012 election cycle available from the Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) PAC. The majority of the TLR money is directed to republican candidates.

The Texans for Public Justice have also created the same nexus between Armendariz, Woody Hunt, Paul Foster and Mark A. Smith that I have previously laid out for you. The report adds that Armendariz was paid “to promote the redevelopment of downtown El Paso” by building “a publicly funded baseball stadium”.

Mark A. Smith

I’m sure you remember Mark Smith. He is the individual that texted another politician that he “can get marisa [sic] to run interference” for him for $13,500 per month. He is also the same individual that a former employee, Emily Loomis filed a restraining order against him for stalking her.

This brings us straight back to the cycle of corruption that permeates the city. I would imagine that with all of the focus on public corruption in El Paso and the questionable characters involved with The Forma Group that politicians would stay clear from anyone that has a questionable character. I am sure by now that you know that I’m completely wrong on that thought. Tomorrow I’ll lead you through the list of political candidates that are using The Forma Group.